Football is ultimately a game. This is often what we hear from the fans who grow tired of hearing the complaints of players in the NFL. But as much as football is indeed a game, the NFL equally is a business, and a full-time job, and along with it comes all the same sort of drudgery that you probably don’t like about your job.
Including the interview process.
Some players may say that they enjoy the training camp process, but others are open about saying they are not a fan. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ramon Foster would be one of them. It’s not a fun thing to do, in many respects, especially in the heat. And it’s not playing football.
There are a number of things you have to go through before you even have the right to play for football for money, however, including, for the majority of players who end up on teams, going through the NFL Scouting Combine. Outside of the on-field drills, says Minkah Fitzpatrick, that was not a fun experience at all.
He told the team’s website that while he enjoyed watching the Combine on television, despite not being a fan of the event, “now that I know what goes down there, I don’t watch it”.
“I don’t see the point of it”, he said. “You have been playing college football for three or four years, you have all of this film. You get invited for a reason. But I have never been a big fan of it. I feel like for some people it hurts you more than it helps”.
One does have to keep in mind that this is the point of view of an elite prospect who was a safe bet to be drafted in the top half of the first round. For a lot of those players, perhaps they could in fact skip the Combine without it being deleterious to their draft stock.
For many other players, however, it serves a vital component. It’s their opportunity to show teams that they’re healthy, for one thing, or to impress them with a knowledge of the game that they didn’t get to show on tape.
It’s especially critical for players who don’t have a lot of tape, or who are changing positions, or who played in smaller schools and conferences. The Combine has its problems, for sure, and your numbers won’t dictate whether or not you’re going to be a good player, but it certainly has value if used prudently.
One thing Fitzpatrick didn’t care for was the physicals, which he called “absurd”. He said that doctors spent the day pulling at his knee because he had an MCL sprain during his freshman season in college, to the point that it left him sore.
And the Combine was a long day for players already. The NFL had just made it even longer by pushing the drills back to the evening, or even the night. It’s not fun. But it is part of the pre-draft process. You can choose not to go through it and hope that it doesn’t affect your draft stock, but you do so at your own risk.