When defending the nature of the Scouting Combine during this year’s festivities in Indianapolis, Cowboys owner/G.M. Jerry Jones unwittingly channeled Michael Corleone.
It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.
Via Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jones specifically wanted to address the subject with reporters. He wanted to speak his mind, after NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent compared the event to a “slave auction.” Also, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith has questioned whether the Combine should be scrapped.
“I’m for continuing to work to really make this thing appropriate,” Jones said, via Hill. “I think we can make it just exactly like you would if you were interviewing for a major company or something like that and ask those kinds of questions.”
But major companies don’t play mind games. They don’t try to make their prospects mad, they don’t try to test them. They don’t have them parade around in their undershorts. They don’t ask applicants if their mothers are prostitutes. They treat the candidates like human beings, because they can exercise their free will as human beings to choose to work somewhere else.
That’s the fundamental problem with the entire process. No matter what a team says or does to alienate a player, the team still has the ability to force him to come work for that team by drafting his rights.
So what if he’s pissed off? He’ll get over it. Or he won’t. Either way, the draft gives the team dibs.
As long as there’s a draft, teams don’t have to worry about players exercising their options. They have none, other than to not play in the NFL. And so, instead of worrying about making the process more attractive to players, Jones thinks the players should simply be thankful for what they have.
“I think it’s important to the players,” Jones said. “Players really should, in my mind, appreciate the promotion. They really should and I know it’s effective. I know it financially impacts individually, making them better.”
But how does it impact them financially? Each draft slot will be filled by someone. And of all the players who went to Indianapolis this year, how many will become marketing attractions because of what they did in pajamas?
Jones also justified the process by saying that, if teams can’t get satisfied about given players, they won’t be drafted as high. But, you see, someone will be. It’s a zero-sum game. The picks will be made. Someone will be taken first overall. And second. And so on.
The teams want to be sure they’re getting the best possible players. And they feel no compulsion to be nice to the players because, at the end of the day, the players have little say. They’ve been conditioned throughout their entire lives to believe everything about it is an honor and a privilege.
The privilege belongs to the teams. And there’s no honor in treating these young men poorly, simply because the team can. The teams can because the young men have no real choice other than to go along, with all of it.