Somehow between my overcommitted Saturday and the complete waste of life that was Sunday I managed to watch almost 20 minutes of the NFL scouting combine this weekend. Even through the season has been over for barely a month*, I’m a big enough fan that I’ll still pay attention to the goings-on as they happen. So while flipping through channels on Sunday I saw that NFL Network had coverage of the combine all day I was intrigued. The combine is something that regular joe fans only hear about from draft “experts” like Mel “My Only Job is to Make a List Four Times A Year” Kiper Jr. So I figured I’d check it out for a few minutes and see what all the fuss was about. Obviously given all the talk it would be nothing but stunning athletic performances coupled with deeply moving backstories in the style of the Olympics.
"And up next in the 40 yard dash is Samuel Danish, a Senior receiver from Middle Northern Tennessee State Valley Tech. His mother is here with him today, having never missed a single one of his games. But she's never actually seen him play, having lost both eyes in a horrible juggling accident involving a knife, a flaming torch, and a gasoline can..."
As it turns out, the draft combine is really really boring. It’s a collection of drills where you get to watch as all the jocks who picked on you in high school succeed, yet again, at the one thing you never did: the Presidential Fitness test. Seriously, the "events" they are run through have no real football value. I mean, when was the last time you saw any wide receivers need to pull out the move as shown in the Vertical Jump**? What, is there a need to jump as high as you can and bitch slap a pesky DB? Or maybe they want to have someone smack the new cable camera***? Come to think of it, I can’t recall the last time I saw a full-blown shuttle run break out during a game either…but they do that one at the combine too.
But, even though the drills lack any sort of real-football application (just like the real Presidential Fitness Award tests develop skills in no way needed in the real world) these guys proceed to do every test about 50 times better than I ever could. I mean, men who are 6’5” and weigh in at 330 lbs run a 40 yard dash in five seconds. Oh, and they are probably going to make 6-7 figures in a few months, too (not that I'm jealous - damn you bike acident for ruining my dreams of NFL stardom!!!). I always thought the point of the Presidential Fitness Award was to be as fit as the President. Of course, since I grew up during the Reagan administration that allowed me to hold myself to a pretty low standard. I doubt the Gipper could have done more than three pull-ups himself at 84+ years old****. Good thing the communists didn't know that though, otherwise they never would have torn down that wall like he commanded.
At least now I understand why ESPN pays Mel Kiper Jr that much money. I don't know if I have the strength to take three entire days of that since I could barely stay awake after 20 minutes. Unless I was amped up on Ritalin...maybe that explains Mel's high energy level.
* Thus concluding another season of boundless hope, predictable collapse, and familiar disappointment at the hands of the Vikings
** For the uninitiated, the vertical jump is a test where the player makes a standing vertical jump and tries to swat as many sticks as he can (see image above), the more sticks he swats, the higher he can jump.
***What do they call that thing anyway? You know, the new camera that whizzes around above the field on those four cables to follow the action?
**** In fact he probably wouldn't have even been able to *find* the bar, particularly later in his second term.