Roger Goodell has a huge problem concerning questions posed to NFL Prospects during the NFL Combine. For anyone not familiar with the NFL Scouting Combine bka the Combine, it is a four day testing (medical, athletic and mental), interview and try out for hundreds of the top college football players who are NFL hopefuls. The combine is run by National Football Scouting, Incorporated (NFS Inc) which is an organization that is independent of the NFL but collects dues from all 28 NFL franchises to run and fund the combine. From NFS Inc’s homepage:
…in 1985 all 28 NFL teams decided they would participate in future National Invitational Camps with the goal of sharing costs for the medical examinations of draft eligible players. […]
As football and the art of evaluating players has evolved, so has the NFL Scouting Combine. While medical examinations remain the number one priority of the event, athletes will also participate in a variety of psychological and physical tests, as well as, formal and informal interviews with top executives, coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams. NIC is the ultimate four day job interview for the top college football players eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft.
The problem with this job fair is that the interviewers don’t seem to follow any type of guidelines for their lines of questioning and they also can’t seem to keep confidential information to themselves. Take the questions and comments from various NFL teams thrown at Toby Gerhart. Gerhart is now a Minnesota Vikings RB who starred at Stanford University but at the combine he was asked if he thought he was a “poster child for white running backs?” and was even told “If you were black you would have gone in the first round”.
Former Oklahoma state WR Dez Bryant now a Dallas Cowboy was asked if his mother was a prostitute.
Another player was asked about his sexuality.
Bengals fourth-round pick Geno Atkins said one club, he couldn’t recall which, asked him about his sexual orientation.
“The only unusual question I got was if I was straight or gay,” said Atkins, a defensive tackle from Georgia whose father, Gene, played 10 seasons in the league. “And that was about it.
In addition three top NFL prospects had information from their alledgedly confidential answers regarding marijuana usage leaked in 2007. Not only was this information leaked, these prospects were asked about drug use.
Three of the most highly regarded prospects in the upcoming NFL draft—Calvin Johnson, Amobi Okoye, and Gaines Adams—admitted in interviews at the combine that they have used marijuana. Nevertheless, all three are considered to be free of the kind of dramatic character problems that have plagued the NFL recently.
Chris Mortenson, NFL insider for ESPN has the best solution for all of these awful interview questions.
Bottom line: The question never should have been asked.
The truth is, every personnel director and coach in the league suspects that more than 50 percent of the players smoke or have smoked marijuana during high school or college. It’s why the NFL does not randomly test players for street drugs such as marijuana because, as one league official says, “We don’t want to be the police. That’s the job of law enforcement.”
The league tests players once each year during a three-month window before training camp. A player is only tested randomly for street drugs if he has given reasonable cause, such as providing a positive sample during precamp testing, or having a run-in with law enforcement. Then he enters the substance-abuse program. (Don’t confuse this with performance-enhancing drugs that are randomly tested for year-round without cause).[…]
It was preventable. Don’t ask the question. Now, three honest young men have their reputations stained in some form during a time that should be a great celebration for them and their families.
But Mortenson’s guideline doesn’t address the issue of confidentiality. All this information was leaked from confidential interviews and even Wonderlic intelligence test scores have been leaked. The most notable leak was Vince Young’s information in 2006.
Vince Young’s horribly low score on the Wonderlic intelligence test — reportedly 6 of a possible 50 — has given teams at the top of the NFL Draft plenty of extra work to do. It also might end up changing how the picks fall at the top of the first round.[…]
Going into the NFL Scouting Combine, the junior quarterback from Texas looked certain to be one of the top four picks. But after scoring so poorly on the Wonderlic, Young’s status as a top-5 or even top-10 pick could be in jeopardy.
ProFootballTalk.com broke the story of Young’s score Sunday, and several NFL scouts confirmed it. Any score less than 15 is extremely low for a quarterback, and most teams want players at that position to score at least a 20.
“It raises a huge red flag,” said Jeep Chryst, a former NFL assistant attending the combine as an at-large scout.
The NFL did its best to silence talk about Young’s test. Combine officials said the score of 6 was inaccurate. Titans GM Floyd Reese said he’d heard the first test had been administered or graded incorrectly. Texans GM Charley Casserly also disputed Young’s score Sunday, saying it was inaccurate.
Young took the test again — on Sunday — and made a 16.
Each of these incidents is a “last straw” moment and yet, every year brings yet another major violation of a player’s privacy and rights to a fair interview. New NFL Union boss DeMaurice Smith needs to jump on this in the upcoming CBA. NFL teams should be equally responsible for each on of these violations being that they contract NFS Inc to run the Combine.