NFL bungles Scouting Combine ban

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The Ray Rice debacle from 2014 sparked an overreaction at 345 Park Avenue, both as it relates to the discipline of players currently in the league and the handling of players not yet in the league. Although the league can’t and won’t discipline players for things occurring before they become employees of NFL teams, the overall overreaction included a nonsensical barrier on the ability of certain players to attend the Scouting Combine.

The rule that bars players with a history of violent crimes (no matter how significant or insignificant) ostensibly hurts the players. It actually makes it harder for the teams that are combining resources (ergo the name of the event) to properly evaluate the player from a health, performance, and personal interaction standpoint.

In 2017, Lions G.M. Bob Quinn wisely spoke out about the rule, as it applied at the time to running back Joe Mixon. Barring Mixon from the Scouting Combine actually helped Mixon avoid the gauntlet of tough questions that comes from a series of 15-minute interviews and other interactions, along with depriving teams of the apples-to-apples comparisons that come from the 300-plus-player event.

The rule has fallen under scrutiny most recently in connection with former Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylen Ferguson. Agent Peter Schaffer tells PFT that Ferguson received his invitation to the Scouting Combine roughly six weeks ago, at a time when teams were well aware of a 2015 fight at a McDonald’s that resulted in a $189 fine. According to Schaffer, teams asked Ferguson about the incident at the Senior Bowl; the league claims, however, that it just became aware of it recently.  Also, Schaffer said that the league leaked the news of the rescinded invitation to its in-house media conglomerate before informing Ferguson that he’ll be prevented from attending.

Making the rule make less sense is the reality that Ferguson will still go through the pre-draft process. Teams will now have to fly him from city to city to evaluate his medical condition, to evaluate his ability to engage in the various events of the Underwear Olympics, and to interact with scouts and coaches while answering tough questions.

“As opposed to penalizing and vilifying the future players of the league, we would hope the league would allow Jaylon and other similarly situated players the opportunity to prove to potential employers that they are remorseful, have learned from their mistakes, accepted responsibility, want to be good role models and are better people now for it,” Schaffer wrote in an email to PFT. “No person is perfect, and people are entitled to second chances and opportunities and one would hope the NFL as a leader in the industry, open minded and a diverse league and business would want to see the best in their players, educate them and help them mature, learn and be better people.”

He’s right. Players who have had off-field issues will still be drafted, if their talent justifies it. Mixon became a second-round pick, for example. Other players not invited to the Combine will be drafted, if teams regard them as worthy of a selection.

Whether the player is invited to the Scouting Combine or not, teams will still put in the effort to come to a conclusion as to whether, and when, a player should be drafted. Keeping the player away from the Scouting Combine may appear to punish the player, but it actually punishes the teams that are trying to properly evaluate the player.

Unless and until the league is willing to also ban players with a history of violence from the draft or from the league entirely, a Scouting Combine ban makes no sense, and the league should end it. Given that the week began with the Browns signing Kareem Hunt, maybe the week should end with a fresh look at the wisdom of what ultimately was and is a misguided P.R. effort from the league.

65 responses to “NFL bungles Scouting Combine ban

  1. That’s what you get when you take a faux stand against domestic abuse.
    Should be zero tolerance no matter how talented they are.

  2. Meh. Potential employers can also toss a resume without ever speaking to a person or giving them an interview. Not sure why potential NFL players need special treatment.

  3. Why is this so hard? Playing in the NFL is a huge privilege. If a player is confirmed to have committed either domestic or any kind of assault then they should be banned from the NFL. No exceptions.

  4. It is entirely cosmetic nonsense designed to make the League like righteous stalwarts against domestic violence. But the gesture is utterly meaningless — certain players can’t go to Indy to run in their underwear but nothing stops them from playing before a national televised audience in real games in the Fall. What a complete joke.

  5. legendofmario1216 says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm
    If a team signs a player with a history of violence they must pay a fine equal to 20% of the contract to a non-profit that serves battered women and children. Problem solved
    ———
    I feel your heart is in the right place but, from my observations, throwing money at a given problem typically only adds a layer of corruption to the given problem instead of helping curb the problem. Money often just adds more sticky fingers to the issue at hand.

  6. I disagree. The Scouting Combine is a league sponsored activity. The NFL doesn’t want players with a history of violent crimes to attend a league sponsored activity. I’m ok with that.

    “Barring Mixon from the Scouting Combine actually helped Mixon avoid the gauntlet of tough questions that comes from a series of 15-minute interviews and other interactions,…”

    While interviews are a (small) part of the process, the general purpose of the Combine is to record measurableables and screen for medical issues. If a team wants to talk to a prospect at length, then use an official visit. Maybe that’s the answer: Give teams more private workouts/ official visits.

  7. I 100% agree with the bar on players convicted of violent crimes from the combine.

    Anyone that doesn’t is a moron or a little weasel trying to stir up drama to get clicks.

  8. OMG so if the NFL tries to not scout players who have a violent past then the NFL is accused of persecution with these violent CFB players being portrayed as “victims”.
    But if the NFL allowed perps like Ferguson to attend the combine and possibly be drafted…well now the NFL is suddenly “insensitive” to victims of DV and are enabling perps like Ferguson.
    The NFL is not allowed to win by the media under any circumstances.
    IMO players like Ferguson SHOULD be banned, and players who are currently under contract SHOULD be terminated with no salary cap penalty to the team, then the player should be banned for life.
    In essence I support a zero tolerance policy for violent offenders when it comes to the NFL.
    Maybe then players who think they have a shot at the NFL will think before they act.

  9. Committing crimes, violent or otherwise is a CHOICE made by the perp.
    Employers also have a choice to hire or not hire candidates who have a criminal past, that is what background checks are for.
    The issue for the NFL is that the media openly advocates for the player no matter what they do. The NFL is not allowed to have a choice in whom to hire, see the media’s never-ending campaign for Kapernik, Colin.
    Zero tolerance is the only answer for the NFL, and for CFB.
    After all, if government schools are allowed to ban violent students why can’t the NFL ban violent players?

  10. I would politely suggest the wrong verb was used in the story headline. Only the Bengals can bungle. “Screw up” (defined as completely mismanage or mishandle a situation) would be a better verb.

  11. myspaceyourface says:

    February 14, 2019 at 12:03 pm
    That’s what you get when you take a faux stand against domestic abuse.
    Should be zero tolerance no matter how talented they are.
    ——————————-
    Why is it that sports is the only profession where if a guy does something bad, then the end result should be, he should never play again. We don’t say this to doctors, lawyers, etc.

    Most pro athletes began playing sports when they were 8, so by the time they become a pro in their 20’s, they have been playing that sport for over 10 plus years. I know most people like to pretend sports is just a game, no, it is a career.

    If a player gets in trouble, then lay down the punishment but it is idiotic to set a standard in one profession that we would not dare set in another.

  12. my_old_name_was_offensive says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:26 pm
    Of course the other option is…wait for it…don’t commit crimes!!!

    ——————————————————————————————

    Finally — one poster who gets it! I am so glad at least one person sees it the way I do.

  13. laughterguns says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:40 pm
    I disagree. The Scouting Combine is a league sponsored activity. The NFL doesn’t want players with a history of violent crimes to attend a league sponsored activity. I’m ok with that.
    ***********************

    Ummm, ok. Do you consider the games they play during the season a league sponsored event, or no? It’s completely hypocritical for the NFL to say that someone with a “violent” past (and i use that term loosely) can’t attend their fancy combine, but hey – you’re more than welcome to get drafted and make tons of money (while also making the NFL tons of money) playing in our games.

  14. SWFLPC.INC says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm
    Why is this so hard? Playing in the NFL is a huge privilege. If a player is confirmed to have committed either domestic or any kind of assault then they should be banned from the NFL. No exceptions.

    —————————————————————————————–

    Bingo!!! The first thing you said is what most people don’t get (including the players). Playing in the NFL is a privilege!!!!

  15. What do you expect from the folks that gave 2 confirmed domestic abusers suspensions of 3-games total, and a guy that didn’t even commit domestic abuse a 6-game suspension?

  16. dryzzt23 says:
    February 14, 2019 at 1:06 pm
    Committing crimes, violent or otherwise is a CHOICE made by the perp.
    Employers also have a choice to hire or not hire candidates who have a criminal past, that is what background checks are for.
    The issue for the NFL is that the media openly advocates for the player no matter what they do. The NFL is not allowed to have a choice in whom to hire, see the media’s never-ending campaign for Kapernik, Colin.
    Zero tolerance is the only answer for the NFL, and for CFB.
    After all, if government schools are allowed to ban violent students why can’t the NFL ban violent players?

    ————————————————————————————–

    Wow!! Another poster who gets it!! I am soooo happy that there are some people with common sense posting in here today!

  17. I am dying to know how many people with a violent offense on their record, are interviewed for job, pass background checks, and are hired by NBC.
    After all if PFT, part of NBC, openly advocates that the NFL give a shot to a violent offender, then I think the people have a right to know how many of these types of people are interviewed by and/or employed by NBC.

  18. With a spotty background and being the all time leader in sacks, NFL teams are really going to want to vet this guy before they decide how to proceed. It seems as if the NFL just made it harder on its members to study a guy who probably needs to be studied more than the average prospect.

  19. freefromwhatyouare says:
    February 14, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    I 100% agree with the bar on players convicted of violent crimes from the combine.

    Anyone that doesn’t is a moron or a little weasel trying to stir up drama to get clicks.
    ——————–

    Most of these bozos are never convicted of anything, so your point is moot.

  20. Hypothetical:
    The media demands that Ferguson be allowed to attend the combine despite a violent record.
    The NFL does NOT want to have Ferguson at the combine but caves to media pressure.
    Ferguson commits a violent crime while attending the combine.
    WHO is to blame?
    The media who advocated for Ferguson?
    Or the NFL who didn’t want him there in the first place?
    IMO, the media and Ferguson are to blame.
    Ferguson would simply say “ya’ll knew better but you put me in an environment that tempted me to do what I did”.

  21. so instead of working out at the combine you would rather have other teams set up their individual workouts exposing the player to multiple injuries by jumping through hoops for them

  22. john baxter says:
    February 14, 2019 at 1:15 pm
    myspaceyourface says:

    February 14, 2019 at 12:03 pm
    That’s what you get when you take a faux stand against domestic abuse.
    Should be zero tolerance no matter how talented they are.
    ——————————-
    Why is it that sports is the only profession where if a guy does something bad, then the end result should be, he should never play again. We don’t say this to doctors, lawyers, etc.

    Plenty of people outside football have had their careers ended by the various “movements” that have emerged over the last 10 years or so. And some of them only uttered stupidity and were toast. So much for freedom of speech I guess.

  23. laughterguns says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:40 pm
    I disagree. The Scouting Combine is a league sponsored activity. The NFL doesn’t want players with a history of violent crimes to attend a league sponsored activity. I’m ok with that.
    ***********************
    grumpysal says:
    February 14, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    Ummm, ok. Do you consider the games they play during the season a league sponsored event, or no? It’s completely hypocritical for the NFL to say that someone with a “violent” past (and i use that term loosely) can’t attend their fancy combine, but hey – you’re more than welcome to get drafted and make tons of money (while also making the NFL tons of money) playing in our games.

    ———-
    Fair enough. That’s a great point that is indeed hypocritical. But, the NFL is trying to maintain a good look and this particular issue is tricky to navigate. I still think they’re correct in barring people with a violent past, and I tried to suggest a solution by saying they should allow teams to have more official visits.

    Are you saying the fix is to allow anyone to attend regardless? Would you have allowed Lawrence Philips to attend the Combine? How about Ray Rice if he did what he did prior to the Combine?

  24. Why not skip the draft all together. Tell teams he doesn’t want to go to, that he isn’t going to talk to them or try out. (polite way of saying what I can’t type here) As an undrafted player he can pick the team he wants to go to. Plus, a shorter time before he can come a free agent.

  25. A 19 year old kid got in a fight? A 20 year old was drunk?

    I’m not seeing how this guy is getting away with anything less than the electric chair.

  26. yooperman says:
    February 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm
    Why not skip the draft all together. Tell teams he doesn’t want to go to, that he isn’t going to talk to them or try out. (polite way of saying what I can’t type here) As an undrafted player he can pick the team he wants to go to. Plus, a shorter time before he can come a free agent.
    ———————-
    Plus walk away with a $35k signing bonus on a $430k salary. He’d really be showing them when he gets paid half as much as the slot where he’d be drafted.

  27. The NFL doesn’t know its own rules and policies, twists themselves into a pretzel and then lies to cover up what they originally wanted?

    No way!

  28. The NFL is a private organization and the Scouting Combine is their event. They can do whatever they want. Strange how people without any ownership are demanding how they should run things.

  29. “Barring Mixon from the Scouting Combine actually helped Mixon avoid the gauntlet of tough questions that comes from a series of 15-minute interviews and other interactions, along with depriving teams of the apples-to-apples comparisons that come from the 300-plus-player event.”
    ============================

    And the first-round graded RB dropped to the second round and lost out in millions.

  30. “Unless and until the league is willing to also ban players with a history of violence from the draft or from the league entirely, a Scouting Combine ban makes no sense, and the league should end it.”
    =========================

    Strange. Why would a pro football talk website care either way if a college player is allowed/banned from the scouting combine? All this is just INTERNAL NFL business that has no impact on the game whatsoever.

  31. Just curious if anyone here knows the facts of what happened at the Ruston, La. McDonald’s?

    A couple things I find interesting. Ferguson received a deferred judgement and a $189 fine. While last years #1 pick and combine invitee Baker Mayfield reached a plea deal pleading guilty to public intoxication, disorderly conduct, fleeing (the resisting arrest charge was dropped in the plea agreement) and required to pay a $483 fine.

    Disorderly conduct and battery are two of the most common misdemeanor crimes charged after fights, arguments, and physical altercations.

    The other thing I find interesting is that the NFL doesn’t allow Ferguson to come to the combine. But Ferguson is perfectly welcome to be drafted and play in the NFL.

  32. What the NFL should do is have a free agent combine for all of the NFL free agents. That way teams can assess the speed, agility, injury status, attitude, contract demands, etc before considering signing a player.
    Plus it would expose players who hide injuries, are slow, and who have high contract demands.
    It would provide the NFL an opportunity to weed out players who have committed some crime or offense that puts both the NFL and their former NFL team in a bad light. This way players would have some ‘splaining to do, thereby forcing some actual accountability on behalf of the player for once.

  33. If you are going to disallow players for something that happened as a teenager BEFORE college. Then you need to disallow Steve Keim GM of the Cardinals for extreme DUI

  34. Does it really make a difference? No combine? He’ll do the same tests at his pro day. Any team looking to draft him will bring him in for an interview regardless. The combine will show you how he responds under pressure, but teams will do what they want with him.

  35. If the NFL was given a do-over on all of its screw ups involving players with legal problems, the list of names would be never-ending. Just as an example, how do you allow Kareem Hunt to join a new team, yet rescind an invitation to the combine for a kid who got into a fight and paid a $189 fine back when he was a college freshman?

  36. bradygirl12…
    Hunt was allowed to join a team due to free market capitalism. An NFL franchise weighed the risks/benefits of signing Hunt and chose to sign him and deal with the PR consequences. Other teams passed on Hunt.
    The media has argued many times on behalf of players not signed to an NFL contract by postulating that the player has a “right to earn a living”. Translation – the media says that the player is entitled to an NFL contract because his skill set is limited to playing football.
    A reasonable person would respond to the media by saying that said player went to HS for 4 years and to college for at least 3 years, did he not learn anything during that time that would develop his skills for a career? Also, what is stopping him from working in fast food, retail, or construction?
    The bottom line is this:
    Player X has a violent past and is unemployed – the media advocates for him and demands that an NFL team sign him.
    Player X signs with a team – now the media eviscerates the NFL team for signing such a player and alerts the womens rights group for protests.
    THAT is how this game is played and is why Hunt has a deal.

  37. bradygirl12 says: “Just as an example, how do you allow Kareem Hunt to join a new team, yet rescind an invitation to the combine for a kid who got into a fight and paid a $189 fine back when he was a college freshman?”
    =====================

    You do know that Kareem Hunt will likely be suspended for 6 games, right? That’s at least $300,000 in lost wages, plus whatever the Chiefs didn’t have to pay.

    This kid is only banned from the combine – yet will still be allowed to join a new team through the draft.

    Punishment is not even close.

  38. akira1971 says:
    February 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    You do know that Kareem Hunt will likely be suspended for 6 games, right?

    This kid is only banned from the combine – yet will still be allowed to join a new team through the draft.

    Punishment is not even close.

    ———————–

    Why is the punishment not even close in your eyes?

    Do you even know the details of what happened at the Ruston, La. McDonald’s with Ferguson and the other teenager?

    Or are you just letting your imagination run wild with respects to various online videos showing ugly fights at burger joints like McDonald’s etc?

    Btw, Adam Shefter reports that he understands Hunt will be suspended for 10-12 games.

  39. SWFLPC.INC says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Why is this so hard? Playing in the NFL is a huge privilege. If a player is confirmed to have committed either domestic or any kind of assault then they should be banned from the NFL. No exceptions.
    _______________
    “Confirmed” is not convicted and more often than not virtue-signallers like you end up being exposed as the abusers you publicly scold. The criminal justice system using due process should be the standard and “no exceptions” is the default position of small minds and totalitarians.

  40. “virtue-snallers” are limited to those of the liberal persuasion.
    SWFPLC.INC was simply stating the fact that playing in the NFL is NOT a “right” or entitlement, it IS a privilege.
    If someone was “confirmed” to have used hate speech, but not convicted of it…then you have no problem with that person being hired by your fav NFL or your employer right?

  41. “Confirmed” is not convicted and more often than not virtue-signallers like you end up being exposed as the abusers you publicly scold.

    ——

    “more often than not” = >50%. I’d like to see the statistics upon which you based that statement.

  42. “Playing in the NFL is a huge privilege”.
    ____________

    Incorrect. It is a profession, an occupation. It is no more of a privilege than being a factory worker, a doctor, an accountant, a plumber, etc.

  43. “”virtue-snallers(sic)” are limited to those of the liberal persuasion”
    _____________

    The term “virtue-signalling” is a nonsensical phrase made up by some Breitbart writer. It has no meaning.

  44. myspaceyourface says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:03 pm
    That’s what you get when you take a faux stand against domestic abuse.
    Should be zero tolerance no matter how talented they are.

    133 44 Rate This
    legendofmario1216 says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:09 pm
    If a team signs a player with a history of violence they must pay a fine equal to 20% of the contract to a non-profit that serves battered women and children. Problem solved

    ————————-
    In reading the article it did not sound like this was domestic abuse.

    Also since there is no assault charge being spoken of that indicates he was not an instigator. And $189 is pretty low so I dont think this was any real go to town thing. This is more like two kids scuffling at McDonalds and law enforcement doing just enough to get them to cut it out. Really just separating them so it stopped that night (before there actually was any serious charges) was the biggest action if thats all anybody got.

  45. As long as Goodell makes his millions, the owners make their millions, all is good. The owners keep Goodell around because he makes them money. The wouldn’t care if it was a robot. Boycott the league. No more game tickets, no full price for exhibtion games, no 8 dollar beers, 6 dollar hotdogs, overpriced jerseys, etc. But suckers keep going to the games and let these rich boys make their money with no morals at all. Wake up America!!!

  46. exinsidetrader says:
    February 14, 2019 at 3:33 pm
    SWFLPC.INC says:
    February 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Why is this so hard? Playing in the NFL is a huge privilege. If a player is confirmed to have committed either domestic or any kind of assault then they should be banned from the NFL. No exceptions.
    _______________
    “Confirmed” is not convicted and more often than not virtue-signallers like you end up being exposed as the abusers you publicly scold. The criminal justice system using due process should be the standard and “no exceptions” is the default position of small minds and totalitarians.

    ———

    Ray Rice was not convicted of anything. But we did have video “confirmation” of the assault. It is all that was necessary.

  47. the nfl, led by king clown himself goodell bungled something? im shocked! shocked i tell you!

  48. People want to apply this type of stuff to athletes, but try this in your line of work and you’ll call it a discriminatory act and violation of your rights. Not dumping on the guy, but Baker Mayfield wasn’t even considered for a ban and he was drunk and brawling with cops. No other job can ask you about stuff like this, but hey time to ride that high horse right.

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