INDIANAPOLIS––Max Bullough, the grandson of former Green Bay Packers player and later defensive coordinator Hank Bullough, declined to discuss why he was suspended for Michigan State's appearance in the Rose Bowl in a session with media at the NFL Combine on Saturday.
In what can perhaps best be described as a combative approach during an interview, Bullough admitted to making a "mistake" but refused to elaborate.
“I’m not discussing it right now," said Bullough. "It’s a personal issue, I’m moving forward from it, I made a mistake. I let down my teammates, I let down my coaches, I let down my family but right now I’m moving forward.”
Bullough was curiously suspended on Christmas Day, a week before the Rose Bowl, for reasons neither anyone from the university nor Bullough himself has publicly disclosed since that time.
With Bullough being a captain and highly-productive player on Michigan State's first Big Ten championship team and appearance in the Rose Bowl in 26 years, it's been a topic hotly debated.
Pressed by the media about his suspension, Bullough appeared to grow agitated, acknowledging that he's been forthcoming with NFL teams but defending his right to not talk about it with the press.
“I’ve talked to the NFL teams, they all know what happened, the situation," said Bullough. "Moving forward, it’s not going to affect my draft status whatsoever."
While Bullough may believe his suspension will not affect his draft stock, ultimately the decision is not up to him.
The characteristic he displayed in becoming combative with the media wasn't a good one, although one he likely doesn't display in interviews with individual teams.
As the Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin saga has played out in Miami, that situation has shown the important nature of locker room atmosphere and the personalities inside it. To say Bullough would be combative with his teammates or coaches or anyone else in the NFL would be pure speculation, but his suspension and refusal to talk about it publicly is likely getting club decision-makers to dig deeper into Bullough's background.
Packers general manager Ted Thompson was reportedly observed talking to Bullough on the practice field at the site of the East-West Shrine Game, a rare occurrence in a public setting, according to Cheesehead TV draft guide analyst Paul Guillemette.
In adding to Bullough's bizarre situation, he weighed in a heavy 265 lbs. for an inside linebacker at the Shrine Game, although he's since lost significant weight.
"I weighed 249 today at the Combine which is what I was getting ready for," said Bullough. "I was eating a lot and working out a lot. When I say eating a lot, I’m talking about good foods. I was on a diet giving me a lot of protein. ... I’m down to 249 my natural playing weight and I feel great."
Prior to the Combine, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock believed Bullough's stock may be dropping, although that was before Bullough went through official Combine measurements.
"Max Bullough has really hurt himself a little bit," said Mayock. "I thought his junior tape was pretty good. He was a solid player, understood the game. He put on some weight, didn't like the way he moved around––I think Bullough is going to get drafted a little later, somewhere in that fifth round, plus or minus. He's a smart, tough kid but he just doesn't move, especially at 265 like he did at 245."
Bullough's grandfather Hank is also an alumnus of Michigan State and was drafted by the Packers in the 1950s. He played only two years in the NFL, but was later hired by former teammate Forrest Gregg to become the Packers defensive coordinator in 1984 and since joined the Buffalo Bills in 1985 and '86 as their head coach.
"My grandpa coached in the NFL for a long time," said Bullough. "My uncle Chuck, he's a defensive coordinator at Syracuse. He's been in the league before. Just having that experience, just like at Michigan State, that lineage and having that pressure everyone called it, to me it's an opportunity, to me it's an advantage. It's people I can go to that understand my situation, that understand what I'm going through, can give me advice that's not only helpful, but it's useful. It's useful and it's relevant and it makes sense for what I'm going through."
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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