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C.J. Stroud’s link to Manning Passing Academy stirs up media squabble

Ahmed Fareed and Chris Simms look at several key QB traits like accuracy and arm strength to see which passers in the 2023 NFL Draft grade out the best -- and the worst.

As Bryce Young becomes more clearly entrenched as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, a real question exists as to who’ll be the second quarterback taken. And that can cause plenty of stuff to be said to people who speak into microphones by those who want Will Levis to go before C.J. Stroud, and vice-versa.

That’s quite possibly what has led to a media squabble between Brady Quinn and Ryan Clark, over whether Stroud’s failure to attend the Manning Passing Academy as a counselor is a factor in the perception that Stroud is dropping.

Appearing on a CBS Sports podcast, Quinn was asked why there’s a perception that Stroud’s stock is falling. Quinn said this, via Colin Gay of the Columbus Dispatch: “The Manning Passing Academy, I’ve been told that he committed to it the night before, just kind of ghosted them, didn’t show up. That’s football royalty. And when you do that, that’s going to set off some alarms for people like, ‘Hey man, that’s not how you conduct yourself, especially around the Manning family or just in general if you’re going to be a franchise quarterback.’”

Ryan Clark of ESPN had a strong reaction to Quinn’s remarks.

“CJ Stroud never committed to attend the Manning camp,” Clark tweeted. “He chose to work with his teammates at [Ohio State] instead before his final season. He wasn’t paid to go, & furthermore [Brady Quinn] . . . what does acquiescing to the Manning family have to do with leading an organization?”

Clark later added this: “This is an example of analyst like [Brady Quinn] telling stories of 0 value to diminish a man’s character while validating his own. Instead of dissecting film, or speaking to coaches an adult man stooped to gossip while analyzing. It’s an immature evaluation of football integrity.”

Quinn, for his part, has complained that a portion of his comments were isolated and taken out of context. Quinn claims that he “was asked why [Stroud] could be ‘dropping’” and that he “simply provided a few examples of what I was told.”

The context, however, is irrelevant if the factual information is incorrect. If Quinn is trafficking in a factually untrue story about Stroud, the specific reason doesn’t matter. He’s still spreading a rumor that might not be true.

What did Quinn do to verify his information? Did he simply accept whatever he was told by an agent or an assistant coach or a scout as true, without due diligence or scrutiny?

And what is the truth? Stroud was listed as a participant. Did he cancel in advance, or did simply not show up without telling anyone?

Then there’s the question of whether it matters at all to his draft stock. Are the Mannings calling teams to say bad things about Stroud because he failed to show up? Would evaluators give a crap if they are? Would someone who is choosing between Stroud and Levis lean toward Levis because Stroud’s failure to give adequate and timely notice that he wouldn’t be attending something completely unrelated to his primary football mission?

So beyond whether it’s true, why would it matter? Before pulling that card, did Quinn consider that people whose jobs ride on getting these things right would be taking a bit of a risk by shying away from Stroud over something so superficial and seemingly trivial?

If Stroud is dropping, it’s likely not because of some potentially irrelevant failure to honor a commitment to be an unpaid participant in a quarterback dog-and-pony show. If Stroud is dropping, it’s more likely because the media had an unjustifiably high opinion of Stroud and, as the draft approaches, the media is learning that the teams drafting in the top 10 don’t share that viewpoint.