Veteran Combine may help give former players closure

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On March 22, the coaches and General Managers convening in Arizona for the league meetings will have the opportunity to watch a surprisingly long list of former players run, jump, and otherwise do the things that coaches and General Managers want to see football players do at the first ever Veteran Combine.

On the surface, it seems like a waste of time.  With 2,880 total roster spots available in the offseason and each team having the ability at any time to bring in an unemployed player for a closer look (as the Eagles did with Tim Tebow on Monday), why would any of the former players who show up on Sunday think they’ll be getting a shot at a 90-man roster in March — much less a 53-man roster in September?

Regardless of whether they should or shouldn’t, they do.  And perhaps going through the process of one last tryout (and one last rejection) will help them move forward with their post-football lives.

Too many former NFL players believe they still can play.  In most cases, they’re the last ones to realize that it’s over.  It’s not unreasonable; the supreme confidence that allowed them to get to the highest level of the sport doesn’t disappear when their physical skills diminish.

They need a way to come to grips with their new reality.  While some may still think they belong in the NFL even after an offer doesn’t come their way following Sunday’s workout, there’s a good chance many will understand their time in the NFL has ended.  If that helps former players transition to life after football, the process will be anything but a waste of time.

25 responses to “Veteran Combine may help give former players closure

  1. I don’t get your disdain for the veteran combine. Yes, teams can bring in any player they want for a visit. Now, they don’t have to. They can view many players, and maybe then decide that a player is worth another look.

    From the players standpoint, it is a chance for them to turn some heads. How many stories are out there of undrafted players making rosters? What if they never got that chance? Now there will be stories of the veteran combine producing guys who contribute. What’s wrong with that?

  2. I’m not going crazy waiting for this but I’m much more interested in this over the college combine with the exception of a few very good college players.

    It will be interesting to see who is there an how well they stack up.

  3. I don’t believe the NFL is a meritocracy. Some players can play but just get a bad rep, while others continue to get jobs even though they can’t play based on past performance or the fact they may have been drafted high. To say all these guys are delusional just seems wrong.

  4. Not sure what the purpose is. These players have been in the league long enough for all of the teams to know what they can and can’t do. Being able to broad jump 11 feet won’t change that.

  5. I’ll bet that a good scout and a decent coach could put together a 53-man roster of currently unemployed players that could win at least 6 games.

  6. IMHO, there are a number of ex-players who are strictly salary cap casualties; and their numbers are growing every year as management opts for younger, cheaper players. The CBA virtually assured that would be the case.
    I also suspect that quite a few of these guys will be too stinkin’ proud to put up with this dog and pony show just to get a minimum contract, so there will likely be no practical effect. Except to put a few more $$ in the owners’ pockets.
    I wonder if there will be any health coverage for the guys who do show up? In case someone blows out a knee, etc.? Somehow I doubt it.

  7. For some of the younger players who might not have gotten the proper coaching in their first stint, this COULD be a second chance at a career. But for some older players (I’m not saying they’re gonna participate like T.O., Chad Johnson, Ed Reed) they don’t want to realize that Father Time has caught up with them. It’s like that once hot 20 year old who is now 35 (not that that’s old) and 20 lbs heavier but she still wants to wear that “little black dress” or bikini but now she has enough fat hanging out to make a 3 year old.

  8. To many players go to bad teams with bad coaches. If a player who was labeled a bust but a good coach can still see the talent he just might get a real shot. Bad coaching can ruin good players

  9. There is always someone who falls through the cracks.

    Always.

    I think it is some sort of break even revenue thing (maybe plus side) that is just another way for the NFL to get another day of exposure in the off season.

    And because no matter how many rocks you turn, there is someone out there that can play (or still play)…

  10. Make it a live television event with sponsors and I bet it would get mad ratings..

    I know it’s a long shot but what if this was a test run of yet another way for the NFL to cash in during the off season? I do about you but I’d watch it if aired.

  11. If the NFL was serious about protecting the game and players (specifically their brains) they’d send all these players to a hospital to get brain scans/imaging. They could let ones with significant trauma know of the challenges they may face down the road.

    In a perfect world, every NFL/NCAA football player would get these scans and have them analyzed by a neurosurgeon every 6 months. Hell any professional athlete of a sport with physical contact should probably be getting this kind of thing done.

  12. As a former D-1A football player, I can attest to that. Not in my case but some of my former teammates. I had a great college career and wasn’t good enough for the NFL and I was fine moving on after I knew I was done. Whereas some of my former teammates dragged it on for 5+ years trying to get in while never starting a career in the real world

  13. Hopefully the guys who have the burning desire, but have not found the right situation will get a shot. Thinking about the Kurt Warner, Fred Jackson , Warren Moon, Joe Theismann types that played in the Arena League, Canada etc.
    I think that it is great that the NFL is making it a little easier for these guys to get a shot.

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