Jerry Jones defends intrusive, invasive nature of the Scouting Combine

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers
Getty Images

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.

32 responses to “Jerry Jones defends intrusive, invasive nature of the Scouting Combine

  1. Is this real? The scouting combine is inhumane? I think Chesterton said it best: “The world has become too absurd to be satirized.”

  2. no one is *forced* to do this – they participate to make millions of dollars. if they don’t want to participate in the opportunity to make millions, find a desk job.

  3. No one forces them to go. Stay away and get drafted whenever or play in the XFL.

  4. Totally agree with Jerry. These guys are giving millions of dollars in exchange for good performance. They should be allowed to be intrusive. Get over it

  5. These owners can ask whatever they want in my opinion. This isn’t a job you can just apply for online that pays 50k a year. These owners are shelling out almost a half a billion dollars to guys and they have every right to make sure that money doesn’t go to waste. Nobody is forcing the players to interview.

  6. Everyone should be treated with dignity.
    The privilege is having a chance to be paid better than 98% of the working population to play a game.
    They also have a choice, deal with the program or use your education (LOL) to get a 9 to 5 job!

  7. Cue up the comments from the keyboard athletes braying about how the players should just be thankful for the ‘privilege’ of playing in the NFL.

    Personally, I think these keyboard athletes are jealous because they weren’t good enough to make their high school team, not to mention college or the NFL.

  8. I remember interviewing for medical school and some of the strange interviews. One interviewer decided to try to get in an argument with me to see if I was truly passionate. Another kept saying that I must be really arrogant or have no confidence at all (seemingly opposite) since I should have gotten more interviews based on my grades. It isn’t the same but it has some parallels. Any job that is highly competitive may give the interviewers a lot of power to push and test the interviewees. It was odd but I tried to keep it in perspective. I don’t think there is any room to be abusive but short of that I think it is up to them to try to figure out who is the candidate they really want.

  9. Yeah, these amateur football players just inherently deserve to have a pro team pay them millions of dollars for multiple years without any kind of tests or scrutiny at all! How intrusive to actually want to put a little pressure on guys whose entire jobs will be to take enormous sums of your money to perform under extreme pressure for sustained periods.

    Heck, it’s offensive to even ask them to work at all. Getting paid millions of dollars to play a game is pretty much just like slavery. They should just give them the money and not ask anything of them, seeing as how they’re entitled to be wealthy and all.

  10. There is always the CFL, XFL, USFL, or otherwise if they’d like to be considered for a less stringent position. Or maybe they’d prefer being undrafted.

  11. Agreed. The guy drafted in the 7th round is so grateful that there was a guy drafted in the 1st. It ISN’T a zero sum game for the individual. How do I know that? The CBA allows it.

  12. Typical. All complaints, no solutions. Major companies are also offering kids out of college $70-$100k. When a CEO comes on board you better believe the questions get more personal and they have done their homework.

  13. I’m sure the player has an option to decline coming to the combine if it is that intrusive. Anyone who compares the combine to a slave auction really has no idea what a slave auction was. Slaves weren’t then paid millions of dollars for their services. The NFLPA will never be strong until they get individuals leading them that have an intellectual mindset.

  14. The draft is real, and players are required to play for the team that drafts them. However, all players are “employees” of the NFL.

  15. First of all, not every team, or every person they send, behaves poorly. And as much as it may be a zero sum game in the total number of players, it’s not a zero sum game for each player. Anthony Richardson likely made a lot more money from this one week than he did from three years of college games,

    Let’s also stop pretending that players don’t have agency. They can choose NOT to pursue a football career. It’s not some right they have to play. It’s their right not to play that matters. And if some team treats them poorly they could tell that team to take them off their board. Sure, there’s a lot at stake if they did that, but that option exists. Finally, it’s not like all of us civilians have total control either. We have to put up with bad bosses too. Life happens.

  16. There’s nothing to “defend” here, and framing it that way is just dishonestly pushing an agenda.

    No one is forcing these prospects to play football for the NFL. There’s PLENTY of other, less paying options – CFL, XFL, USFL, Rivals Professional Football League, Indoor Football League, etc.

  17. “They treat the candidates like human beings, because they can exercise their free will as human beings to choose to work somewhere else.”

    “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.”

    They also have that right they DON’T have to play football for a living. And if they get drafted by a team they don’t want to play for they don’t have to sign a contract.

  18. “I’m for continuing to work to really make this thing appropriate,” said by a person(Jones) that thinks he is an expert at identifying draft talent….

  19. Without a draft process and salary cap the league would revert to a situation where the large market teams would be able to dominate much like Major League Baseball which for the most part has had a competitive imbalance for years.
    I never had a job interview where an employer asked me anything about my family. Stick to the pertinent information at the combine.

  20. I worked at the Lawrence Livermore Lab in California about 25 years ago. It’s a very high security facility. Frankly one of their departments there actually develops and assembles nuclear warheads. Bombs. Anyway my job there was pretty low level, just an IT guy. But what I had to go through to work there was shocking. Every neighbor on my block in Santa Cruz was asked about me. Very intrusive stuff. Some places you work, or want to work at, they do these things. The NFL does it simply because of the money involved. My situation was very different, they didn’t pay me much. The people who have public issues with the screening of NFL guys are grandstanding for their agendas. That’s it. Nobody forced me to apply at the LLL, and nobody is forcing these guys to apply for the NFL draft.

  21. So, pay players $230 million guaranteed contracts, but don’t make them complete a rigorous physical & mental qualification process. Got it.

  22. For all of the good guys trying to change this process, including Troy Vincent D. Smith, maybe even Goodell, if the owners won’t change the sickening and embarrassing spectacle, it is here to stay.

  23. Just like playing football. It is a choice and players do not have to attend. If they have a problem with it they can choose to stay home and just do their pro day. Many players who do not get invited would do anything to go, so either don’t go or shut up and go through the process.

  24. These players aren’t porcelin dolls. They know exactly what they are signing up for and trying to achieve. I wish my next job required a few days showing off my athletic skills and answering a bunch of questions so I can make a few million dollars and retire by 30 yrs old if I wanted to. Everyone won’t make it big but then again everyone is not supposed to or entitled to it. You think these men are being treated “poorly”? What are you thoughts on the recruiting/interviewing/selection process for young men and women entering the armed forces? Space program? Law Enforment? These folks don’t have hundreds of thousannds or even millions of dollars waiting for them like these athletes do when this “inhumane” process called the NFL Combine is over.

    And since when are these players forced to play? These players can exercise the same “free will” and chose another line of work at any point in time. And if all they can do is play football because they didn’t give a crap about their college grades then shame on them.

  25. I agree with Jerry, they either want a job or they don’t, nobody really cares what they think.

  26. By this logic every job interview you’ve ever went to was also “invasive.” You were “forced” to go to some strange place and meet with people you didn’t know, all sorts of questions were thrown at you, you may have even been asked to demonstrate your work skills instead of the interviewers just blindly taking your word for it.

  27. An invitation-only job fair for athletes that is attended by people of different ethnicities and results in multi-million Dollar contracts is compared to a slave market by several high ranking members of the association that is holding that job fair?
    I always thought the times of slavery were among the most inhumane in human history, but the men trying to spitball the event are implying that these must have been extremely happy times when people were royally rewarded for there physical abilities. I know of course that this was not the case, but offering such totally misleading comparisons should result in consequences.
    I live in Germany and there are laws against denying the Holocaust and the cruelties of the Holocaust. Making false comparisons to the Holocaust also results in lawsuits, fines and several people had to step down from their positions because of ill-advised comparison of that nature.
    I‘m not part of the woke mob and I‘m against cancel culture, but I honestly question the intelligence and motives of people comparing two things that have little to do with each other as in this case when slavery is compared to the NFL combine.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.