Time to Quiet Character Questions on Defensive End Carlos Dunlap

It seems that everyone outside of the Bengals fraternity (mostly the team and it's fans) are mentioning their concerns about Carlos Dunlap's arrest on December 1, 2009 for drunken driving in which he pled guilty and is severing a one-year probation. Andrew Miller of the Post and Courier wrote this weekend in a quick summary of that night:

Gainesville, Fla., police found Dunlap passed out behind the wheel of his car at an intersection just days before the SEC Championship game in December. He was suspended for the SEC title game, but reinstated three weeks later and had two sacks in a Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.

The (albeit stupid) incident dropped Dunlap into the second round because many blindly attributed this as general character issues. When asked about it after the Bengals selected him in the second round, Dunlap said:

“That was the only incident I’ve ever had on my record. I never had anything before that, and I won’t ever have any more. I feel like I learned from it, and I’m ready to move forward and turn that negative into a positive.”

If people question Dunlap's character based on that night, then let me use a phrase that would sum that up nicely. Super Stupid. I never condone or justify someone's wrangling with the law. But most people have found themselves reflecting on a past mistake in their lives and many have also used that as a positive. And unfortunately for the over-analyzing draftniks in the world, one mistake doesn't equate to a history of crime, nor a future of unethical world domination, ala Pinky and the Brain. Pointing this out as a red flag isn't just ridiculously over-reaching, it saturates the word that it carries little meaning because we already know that that experts will use the word simply to sound expansive in their knowledge of any given selection. I don't condone it, but college kids drinking at college parties. NO?!

However, where flags have been raised that are justified, could be his motivation and "motor". Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer pointed that out this weekend and acknowledged that it'll be his job to keep Dunlap motivated.

“Sometimes it has disappeared a little bit in some of the games. But I’ve been watching a lot of tape — way too much tape this time of year — and there are a lot of guys that have already gone off the board that take a lot more plays off than this guy. But that’s our job as coaches, to make sure they’re not taking plays off.”

I know most of you haven't even brought up the issue of Dunlap's character, very likely already on board with the selection without the holier attitude of the do-no-wrong holy experts that judge these things. On the other hand, should there be concern about Dunlap's overall work ethic and motivation? Maybe. But you really don't care about that either. After all, the Bengals are the only team to have a coach like Mike Zimmer.

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