When Chris Johnson broke the record for the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, eyes popped out. Fans were stunned; subsequently looking for possible trade scenarios and draft projections. This seemed to be a hope, a hope for their team to be able to select Johnson.
Scouts’ eyes, for the most part, remain shut.
Sportspeople often over-stress the emphasis on the “Underwear Olympics.” Players run, jump, shuffle, and sweat for five days. Scouts boast multiple stopwatches, capable of counting as precisely as possible. Records, such as Chris Johnson’s 40-yard dash, pen themselves in history.
The fact of the matter is: the combine fails to resemble true NFL football. Allowing lineman to stretch and swing their arms to propel on a long jump fails to simulate the situation in the trenches. Asking wide receivers to catch a pass, and subsequently drop it to catch another one, teaches poor football habits. This so-called “gauntlet drill” ends up creating a cornerback’s happy hour.
While the physical hoopla bodes minimal purpose, the work in the interview room becomes crucial. In the 24/7 football life, players need the proper personality to survive. In the allotted 60 interviews, teams pry and hassle at players. They gauge the true character of the player, often throwing in a football IQ question. Sometimes, draft selections are made based heavily on something said in conversation. See future Hall of Famer, Peyton Manning:
“I would like to play for you but if you don’t pick me, I will kick your *ss for the next 15 years.”
The combine drills are a televised brouhaha, creating five days of full-force programing for the NFL Network. Behind the scenes are where stars are born. Players coax and cajole with team executives. Their efforts try to pave the way for a higher draft selection, and a better start at football life.