Sunday, February 23, 2014

Underwear Olympics

Well my football pupils, my gridiron companions, my pigskin novices, you have survived an entire football season. I hope your off-season has been relaxing, fulfilling and memorable. I have tried some new things and gotten to know myself a little better. I have tried a cake decorating class with my daughter and discovered that confectioners’ sugar can cover every square foot of my house if the mixer is turned on before the water is added. I have learned that the very same sugar is quite disagreeable while it is in the digestive tract of an 80lb boxer. What I have confirmed about myself is that I still hate baking.

But I have great news for us all! Football is back! Now before you stop reading this blog, let me explain. There are no games scheduled, most NFL players are gone and Monday nights are still your nights to do whatever your heart’s desire. But even while the action on the field is at zilch, the NFL is still hard at work. Teams are making adjustments to their rosters, acquiring other NFL players, negotiating contracts, and getting a close look at prospective rookies entering the NFL this year.

One of the ways that teams look at prospective rookie talent is at a four day event called the NFL Scouting Combine. It’s happening this weekend and you can catch all the live action on TV. Isn’t that exciting? The players that are participating this weekend were selected by a group of scouts. There will be about 335 players that just finished their college careers and are looking at entering the NFL for this upcoming football season. What they will be tested on are physical skills; 40 yard dash, shuttle run, broad and vertical jumps amongst other drills. Then come the physical examinations by team doctors, interviews by team coaches and Wonderlic testing that looks at aptitude of players. While the Combine will not break or make a player that is trying out for the NFL, it can add to the overall evaluation for the teams that are looking to draft them.

What you can equate this to is a four day group interview. Having gone through one recently I can completely empathize with the pressure that comes with it. The one thing that I can take comfort in is the fact I wasn’t interviewing in skin-tight skivvies (which is probably why I have the job now). I have heard the Combine renamed the Underwear Olympics by local radio sportscasters. Having watched some track and field events, I can only assume that the apparel is designed to be aerodynamic. Having done my share of cardio and jogging I can only be grateful that nothing I do is done before an audience of evaluators.

Another term that is has come about since the Combine has been Workout Warrior. This term can be used in a derogatory way. It comes about as a player who looks great at the Combine. He performs the drills and wows the scouts unfortunately it does not translate to performance on the field as a football player. Although I would love to be accused of being a Workout Warrior (eat your heart out Shaun T), it is usually not a positive term in the NFL.

With the overwhelming popularity of the NFL, events like the Combine and the upcoming draft are now becoming must-see TV. As an NFL junkie, all I can say is, “Thank you”and “Please put some clothes on before you catch a cold”.