NFLPA supports players who choose to skip Scouting Combine

NFL Combine - Day 3
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With the NFL placing pandemic-driven restrictions on the 2022 Scouting Combine, plenty of top prospects are expected to choose not to participate in on-field workouts. Those players have the full support of the union they’ll eventually join.

“We have spoken to several agents to reinforce our long standing opposition to the NFL Scouting Combine and agree and support the decisions by those to not attend,” the NFL Players Association said in an email sent to all agents on Sunday. “The combination of the NFL’s proposed ‘bubble’ and the fact that we still have an antiquated system of every team doctor examining players and having them perform yet again needs serious modification or elimination. While we do not represent these players we have advocated for their rights to fair treatment. Our union has always encouraged players to take control of their careers from the very beginning and we appreciate that agents are looking at ways to support that goal.”

The main purpose of the Scouting Combine is to gather all players for a thorough and comprehensive medical evaluation. It has grown into a made-for-NFL-Owned-TV event that fills the no-football void of late February and/or early March. Plenty of media members, consciously or not, add to the pressure on players to choose to provide free services to the NFL under the guise of “competition” and/or regarding it all as part of a normal job interview.

It’s not normal. And players have every right to say, “I’m done working for free. Draft me or risk having one of your competitors do it.”

But that kind of independent thinking/business judgment is frowned upon in an industry that wants the players to behave like robots, never questioning and always submitting to whatever the coach, the team, the league wants them to do.

The problem is that the players have strong competitive instincts. Unless they know they’ll be taken among the first players to be drafted, they’ll fear that someone else will choose to participate and leapfrog them. Plus, there’s a risk that if someone pushes back against Big Shield, Big Shield will retaliate, somehow.

It’s unfortunate that the incoming players have no collective protection. The NFL uses their desire to be selected as early as possible (and paid as much as possible) against them, cajoling them into doing more and more and more under the guise of eventually getting paid. Even as the NFL profits from their decision to participate, through the revenue generated by televising the Underwear Olympics for football-starved fans who are trying to find reasons to be hopeful about the prospects of their favorite teams.

Yes, they eventually get paid. That doesn’t make the current system right. And since the NFL benefits from the current system, it won’t change it without a fight. The problem is that there’s no real fight to be had, no real battle to be joined.

And, yes, this is an example of the perspective of Playmakers, which breaks down the many things the NFL does and how those things can be done in a way that is more fair to the men who are the ones who suit up and play the game, taking the short- and long-term physical risks inherent to putting on a show that compels millions from September through the Super Bowl.

The NFL does many things well. In other areas, it needs to improve. In certain specific contexts, like this one, what’s good for the NFL isn’t good for others. As long as those things are good for the NFL, they won’t be changing any time soon, if ever.

20 responses to “NFLPA supports players who choose to skip Scouting Combine

  1. Some players benefit from attending the combine, so it works both ways. It’s an apples to apples comparison in Indy for the most part. Don’t forget that side of the story, please.

  2. The combine makes too many teams reach too many times early in the draft. Let the combine be for those looking to be taken outside Round 3.

  3. Pull yourself out of the draft and get a real job where you’ll surely be treated fairly.

  4. Read some history about what took place at the slave markets in America during the 19th century. Then look at what the NFL does to their prospective players at the combine. Pretty similar.

  5. Employers in every industry like to make the best decision possible when hiring a candidate. And that is especially true when the job pays millions of dollars per year. If a player opts out when healthy, it may look like they have something to hide.

  6. I participated in the combine in 1999. It helped me and I lasted in the NFL way longer than Tim Couch & Akili Smith.

  7. I am certainly fine with demanding pay for aspects of the job interview outside the scope of everyday business.

    Interviews = freebie. Just like any college kid looking for a job.

    Athletic performance tests and in-depth physical = paid activity.

    I am positive the NFL will survive.

  8. candlestickkid says:
    February 20, 2022 at 8:11 pm
    Read some history about what took place at the slave markets in America during the 19th century. Then look at what the NFL does to their prospective players at the combine. Pretty similar.
    Please inform us all on how all of these players are forced to play in the NFL. How they are captured and sold on other continents and brought to the combine. While at the combine, educate us all on how they are held in jails and then auctioned off and possibly forever separated from their family to become forced lavorbworking in the NFL for free. Tell us.

  9. Maybe it’s part of the job interview process and should be noted as such. Voluntary, but probably a strike against you if you don’t do it. By the way, the starting salary is a minimum of $600k per year and you have the potential to earn 10x that out of the gate (well, closer to 15-20x for the very top players, but they are likely going to be drafted whether they show there or not). Some employers (call me crazy), might think they’d like to evaluate a player up closely, particularly for medical issues, if your salary is guaranteed for the year whether you play a down or not and get hurt on the job. It’s not workers’ comp or disability you draw, it’s your entire salary. That’s a lot different than any business I know, so I can understand why someone might want to do some in depth work on you as bad draft choices quickly turn franchises into bad teams.

  10. The combine is a joke but it is part of the NFL’s hiring process. The players are only hurting themselves by not following the process ( assuming they care about an NFL job ).

  11. How many “Combine Stats” actually pan out..the old way of watching film of a player usually is better then grading him on the underwear WR in history ran a 4.7..Best QB in history had a horrible combine got drafted 199 won 7 rings..

  12. Why is this such a big issue? There some big orgy planned that guys are not getting to attend with their buddies now? Oh I’m sorry every team may want to look medically at a player. Unless there is some problem most will go by what is done at the combine. Same union agreed with teams that incoming players should make even less than they did years ago. While the #1 pick being the highest paid guy at a position was dumb, the Union could care less about these guys.

  13. So if the Combine is so bad what’s your proposed alternative. Simply watch film from the previous year? No interviews? No medical (trusting college team doctors who have every incentive to keep these kids on the field no matter what)?

    Are you going to hire someone for six figures and not know if they are mentally and physically capable of doing the job?

  14. It’s almost like the NFLPA is for anything that hurts the NFL. Someone should tell them that the league is where all their money comes from.

  15. I don’t see the relevance of the union supporting players who don’t want to interview for a job. They have no input on who gets drafted.

  16. candlestickkid says:
    February 20, 2022 at 8:11 pm
    Read some history about what took place at the slave markets in America during the 19th century. Then look at what the NFL does to their prospective players at the combine. Pretty similar.

    Xxxxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxxxx Xxxxxxxxxxx

    As this boycott proves, you are neither forced or coerced into playing for the NFL.

    Most of these same players will do the individual drills anyways at PRODAYS.

    Poor example and terrible rational. Nevermind the NFL creates at least 32 new American millionaires every single year.

  17. Of course the NFLPA is against the combine. These “workout warriors” who didnt necessarily play great in college have a way to impress and take someone’s job who is in the NFLPA.
    As for the bad idea in general of never going and saying that players should boycott and say take me or risk someone else is horrible. It’s a job interview, sure some people have that impressive resume they dont need to interview and they still can get their job but most would miss out on opportunities if they refuse to interview.

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