As a lot of you know by now, I worked in the front office - and even more specifically, the scouting department - of the Redskins while I was the Salary Cap Analyst there. While I did not sit in on our interviews at the Combine, I did have access to our scouts' reports on players and their on & off-field characteristics and obviously had conversations with our scouts about prospects.
Understand that when a club is about to make a significant multi-million dollar financial investment in a kid, the club is going to do its due diligence on this kid both on & off the field.
Similar to some government positions that involve national security, the agency is going to dig deep into the candidates past both as it relates to their on-the-job performance but also their personal lives to determine if there is anything there that could jeopardize or compromise the agency and this candidate. It's no different in the NFL.
As it relates specifically to Dez Bryant, at the Combine this year, I heard whispers of his Dad being a pimp and his Mom being a prostitute. I say that to say that all the teams in the league knew that this was a possibility about Bryant's background.
Now, how each team takes this information and considers it in their evaluation process is obviously going to differ from team to team, but it's absolutely a consideration for a kid who you could be giving $15+ million guaranteed to.
You need to understand how the mental make up of a kid has been impacted by his external influences, which includes the kid's parents, friends, and anyone else the kid has been around for a significant amount of time in their life. If you don't think mental make up is an important part of the evaluation process, then ask the Raiders and Chargers if they wish they would've gotten a better grasp on the mental make up of the physically talented JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf.
As far as how the Dolphins used this information, and specifically Jeff Ireland's question. First and foremost, I don't think we truly know the full context of the question. If Ireland asked Bryant about his Mom and prostitution and followed it up with something like "how did that impact you as a man and what have you taken away from that upbringing," then I don't think the question is as harsh as made out to be. Understand that the media is going sensationalize a story and it's easy to sensationalize a team asking a player if his Mother was a prostitute without giving the reading public the benefit of hearing that question in its full context.
If the question was asked exactly as reported, then I completely disagree with the tact, or lack thereof, used by Ireland. However, I understand and agree with the spirit of asking a question to challenge a candidate, whether it's challenging their emotional control or challenging their ability to deal with adversity, but the important component to this is an ability to do it in a tactful and respectful manner.