Ed Oliver is rightly regarded as one of the top draft picks ahead of the 2019 draft.
It is a widely held view that if you want Aaron Donald 2.0, then Ed Oliver is your man.
An outstanding season at Houston, he has done and said all the right things a senior should be doing and saying in his final season. At a time when NFL scouts are scrutinising everything he does on and off the field to determine if he really is worth a first round pick in Nashville next April.
Until Saturday that is.
Oliver was injured Saturday and whilst he practised during warm ups, was not scheduled to play so sat on the bench wearing his team kit. He was also wearing a cold weather team jacket. We call them bench coats. It was cold. Well 50 degrees, which is cold in Texas.
Under Houston team guidelines, only players who are listed as playing are allowed to wear these jackets. Whether Oliver was or wasn’t aware of that rule, we don’t yet know but Houston Head Coach, Major Applewhite viewed this as a breach of team rules.
Prior to half time there appeared an altercation between the two where Oliver was told to take the jacket off. When he declined, his head coach decided he would remove Oliver’s jacket for him. Bravado or madness, Oliver is one big dude and Major Applewhite found himself in a one sided altercation with the big fella. Oliver was hauled away from his coach by teammates and ushered up the tunnel, not to re-appear in the second half. Of course with all of this happening in full view of fans, press and worse still cameras the unsavoury incident was recorded for scrutiny by media and NFL Head coaches alike.
But this then begs the question, was this all about some nonsense about a jacket or is there a wider issue with Oliver? He has been the stand out star of this Houston side. Has it all gone to his head and his head coach is trying to keep him on the straight and narrow? Or has his head coach had enough of having a superstar on his team. Without knowing what happens in the locker room it is hard to tell.
But Ed Oliver has been unavailable through injury for three straight games and despite practicing during warm ups was unavailable again Saturday. This must be frustrating to all.
There is now a media frenzy around the story, but worse still for Oliver it raises the spectre of his attitude with NFL scouts. Is he a team player? Is he ill disciplined? Does he have an issue with authority? He is under the microscope and frankly the altercation could not have come at a worse time. This incident and these questions will come up in every team interview he has between now and April.
For me, both could have handled this better and frankly his Head Coach does not come out if this well. But the damage is done and to honest there will only be one loser. Applewhite could have dealt with this in a less public manner. But he chose not to.
Silly rule or not, Oliver’s NFL career hangs in the balance because of a jacket. Only in the NFL
Photo credit : Espn.com