Before we can check the offseason box next to the phrase “Underwear Olympics,” we’ve got to check the boxes that say “Quarterbacks say they’ll throw at the Underwear Olympics” and “media shouts approval.”
(They’re the boxes right after “Quarterbacks say they won’t throw at the Underwear Olympics” and “media criticizes the decision.”)
Former Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles has announced on Twitter (where else?) that he’ll throw at the Scouting Combine.
“Dreamt about the combine since I was a kid!” Bortles said. “Fired up to compete in all aspects of it, especially throwing!” On cue, media members who would otherwise have less to write and/or talk about if none of the key quarterbacks throw, applauded the decision — as part of the year-in, year-out effort to shame those who choose not to throw now, and to influence those who may choose not to throw in the future.
Really, do any of the people who are saying, “Good for youuuuu, Blake” really care about whether the kid will be helping or hurting his draft prospects while wedging a throwing session to receivers he doesn’t know into a multi-day excursion of being poked and prodded by doctors and asked all sorts of questions by team after team after team? Or does the media simply want the dog-and-pony show to have the most possible dogs and/or ponies?
“But Florio you’re part of the media!”
Maybe I am. But maybe I’m also willing to point out the obvious disconnect between guys doing a bunch of things in the latest Under Armour fashions and guys actually playing football. There’s no vertical jump in football. There’s no three-cone drill in football. And as Warren Sapp says every year, they don’t put a weight bench at the 50-yard line.
Most importantly, guys run 40 yards in a straight line on a football field only when something really good has happened. Or when something really bad has happened. And unless something really unusual has happened, they’re always wearing pads and helmets.
We collectively care about the Combine because there’s nothing else going on right now, from a football standpoint. So we obsess over the excruciating minutiae of apples-to-oranges activities that will long be forgotten by the time the next football season begins.
We do it in large part, as decorated philosopher George Costanza once said, because it’s on TV.
None of it is a competition, especially as it relates to the jumbled cluster of a revolving door of quarterbacks throwing passes to a revolving door of receivers. For most players, the hay was put in the barn once their college careers ended, and the rest of this is just killing time until the draft arrives.
“But Florio quarterbacks may be changing their mechanics to succeed at the next level!”
Yeah. Just like Tim Tebow. He got rid of the Deliberate Catapult motion when he was throwing in the non-game sessions before the 2010 draft. It helped get him picked in the first round. And as soon as he got back onto the field and things started to get hectic, Tebow reverted to thousands of hours of horrible habits that his previous coaches (we’re looking at you, Urban Meyer) didn’t fix.
I’m not knocking any of it. Interest in the Scouting Combine translates to interest in the media publications covering the NFL. But we’re not big fans of making things seem like something than what they are. And the Scouting Combine isn’t football.
It may fill the void of the non-football months, but it’s not football. And no participant should choose whether to participate based on the artificial idea that it’s any type of competition remotely related to the game they’re about to finally get paid to play.