It isn't unprecedented that a football player be negatively affected by those close to him. NFL team scouts do extensive homework on the players entering the draft to try and make sure they get a good feel for the talent and character of the prospects. For Connor Cook, what we witnessed was a borderline first round talent fall into the third day due to character concerns. Or perhaps more so the character concerns of his father and his influence on his son.
Several NFL types have cited team sources that say Cook has leadership issues. One major red flag being that he wasn't voted a team captain -- a title almost exclusively reserved for the quarterback. Something Connor has downplayed in favor of focusing on his 34-5 record at MSU, including two B1G championships.
Optimum Scouting's Eric Galko noted in his write-up of Cook, that "Parental influences have impacted how those at MSU and others in the process view him for the future." with others saying what they were hearing was that the major issue was not with Cook himself.
Galko and others are highlighting these pre-draft observations on the heels of a piece in DetroitSportsRag.net that showed a series of tweets from Connor Cook's father Chris Cook that are certainly not a good look for his son, and are being pointed to as a major reason his son tumbled in the draft, losing millions of dollars in potential contract money in the process.
Among those tweets were a litany of offensive language and hate speech often directed at media either covering his son or just simply saying something he doesn't like. This offensive language pretty much ran the gamut including homophobic slurs, sexism, racism, xenophobia, and threatening a player who played against his son in a game. All in some pretty terrible grammar ("your an idiot!").
He's basically your garden variety internet troll. Except he's far from anonymous. And while I'm sure there are many people who see nothing wrong with what he said, and plenty who agree with his 'takes' it doesn't look good if you're a prospective NFL team. Not at all.
Oh, and he also ripped into the Browns for trading Trent Richardson (nailed it!), calling them a perennial loser and saying "I hate the Browns" which is interesting considering the Browns had a need at quarterback and passed on drafting Cook SIX TIMES, including trading out of the very spot the Raiders used to select Connor.
Chris Cook's antics aren't just relegated to twitter, either. DSR said they were contacted by sources saying "it was well known" that other MSU parents requested not to sit anywhere near Chris Cook during games. In the Deadspin piece that expanded on what DSR posted, you can see why, as a reader claims Chris Cook punched an OSU student in the side of the head in the bleachers for talking trash at a game, giving him a concussion.
Reggie McKenzie is known for the high standard he places on character, but that standard becomes more balanced with on field talent when you get into the third day of the draft. Prior to the draft, Cook was expected to be the fourth quarterback taken, with the other three all coming off the board in the first round. So, when he was still available in the fourth round, he generated considerable interest. You take a chance at that point that the potential on-field talent outweighs the red flags.
Being a backup to Derek Carr for a couple years could be just what Connor Cook needs to move past this discussion and become his own man, surrounded by the several positive influences in the Raiders locker room and clear of negative influences doing any further damage to his football career.