Kentwan Balmer was not on the practice field today, just as he was not yesterday. There was a difference, though. Yesterday’s absence was excused. Today’s wasn’t. Mike Singletary told Balmer, the third-year defensive lineman, to show up, an order that went unheeded.
There is a great deal of mystery surrounding Balmer’s absence. His name has been mentioned regarding an NCAA investigation into the dealings between a coach, John Blake, and an agent, Gary Wichard. Wichard represents Balmer, who supposedly paid for trips by North Carolina tackle Marvin Austin.
But would any of this keep Balmer off the field? If Balmer had to testify or appear before a commission, would coach Mike Singletary sound so frustrated with the DE? None of it makes sense. Nor does the coach’s reaction indicate any sort of family emergency. Is this simply about playing time? Leaving camp would seem to be a gross overreaction to that.
Here is the early portion of today’s press conference with Singletary. Yes, it was a little tense.
Opening statement: “Good morning. The thing that I want to start with is this, as it relates to Kentwan Balmer, because I know there will be questions about that. That is a personal issue. As far as I’m concerned, we’re going to move forward and I told Kentwan to be here this morning. He was not. For us, we’re going to move forward. I’m not going to get into any details of what it is about, what he’s doing, what he’s dealing with, whatever. I think you guys know where he lives, or if you find out, you can ask him and I’ll let him talk about it. The thing that I want to talk about are the guys who are on the team. I want to talk about what’s happening out here. Kentwan Balmer and the situation with him will not be a distraction to us. We’ll continue to move forward. We had a pretty decent practice today. So on that note, I would appreciate if there was no manipulation of questions on Kentwan. I’m done with that.”
Q: It’s a team issue though …
A: “It is not. It is not a distraction, it is not a team issue. We are moving forward.”
Q: By moving forward, you mean …
A: “What I’m saying is, at this point right now, I told Kentwan to be here this morning. He is not here. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t know what he’s doing, but there is not going to be any phone calls, ‘Kentwan, what you doing …?’ I’m done with that. All I’m concerned about are the guys out here.”
Q: This different from Crabtree, Aubrayo Franklin because Balmer is under contract?
A: “Let me say this. I talked to Kentwan – as simple as I can put it, I asked him to be here. He’s not here. Yes, he is under contract, and the fact that he’s not here, that speaks to me. What it says, I really don’t know … to him, I don’t know what it say. But to us, all I know is he’s not here. Fine. We’re practicing. We’re doing what we have to do. We’re going to move forward.”
Q: Will he be released?
A: “You know what? Here we go again. I don’t want to go there. I’m done with that. I’m done. I don’t want to say anything further than that. Kentwan, if you guys want any information about Kentwan, go to Kentwan.”
Q: How was he doing?
A: “He was doing OK. He was doing OK. Now I’m done with Kentwan.”
Q: Can he help this team?
A: “You talking about Kentwan? Guys, here’s the deal. I don’t want to answer any more questions about Kentwan. I’m done with Kentwan. If Kentwan comes back, I’ll let him talk to you about whatever his issue is, but I really don’t want to talk about Kentwan. I want to talk about the guys that are out here. We’re trying to win football games, we’re trying to become a better football team. I don’t want to talk about something that’s not here. “
Q: I have a question about NaVorro Bowman.
A: “Hey! That’s it! There we go. Now we’re working.”
Hopefully, I’ll have more later.