Is the NFL Combine Overrated?

Workout Warrior Tony Mandarich was one of the biggest busts of all-time

Lucas Oil Stadium — The Mecca for NFL prospects. The NFL Combine takes place each year in Indianapolis and has become one of the biggest NFL events of the year for football fans. In 2010, the Combine garnered 5.2 million viewers and as Fox Sports writer John Czarnecki points out, that number is more than double the amount of viewer’s to ESPN’s baseball telecasts on an ordinary week. Oh yeah, the NFL Network is shown in 43 million fewer homes than ESPN.

With all the hype that the Combine gets and the amount of value that is placed on 40 yard dashes, verticals and bench pressing, you have to wonder why.

Everyone, from your average fan to top scouts seem to place so much value on these tangible aspects of the game of football. The Combine displays physical skills that are obviously translatable to the NFL game, but the fact of the matter is that everything that is accomplished at the Combine is accomplished in non-game situations.

The Combine is kind of like that old golf adage, “drive for show, putt for dough.”

It looks really nice when you drive a ball 350 yards right down the middle of the fairway, but when you get up and down in 4 shots that 350 yard drive is forgotten.

It is no different in football. You are very impressive when you do 40 reps on the bench press or run a sub 4.4 in the 40. Good on you.

At least at the combine you can also drive for dough, if you know what I mean. Darrius Heyward-Bey knows all about that.

The draft stock of players is too dependent on their performance at the Combine, despite the NFL front offices and scouts knowing all about the folly this event. To this day, the tendency is still there to shy away from Combine failures and be drawn to the workout warriors.

It’s silly.

The intangible elements that are only seen during game play are not on display at the NFL combine (obviously). You aren’t going to be able to find out if a receiver can find the soft spot of a zone defence or if a linebacker can read the quarterbacks eyes. Some guys can flat out play the game and are denied an opportunity to show what they can do because they don’t possess those god given physical gifts that scouts drool over.

You’re probably thinking it, but I still have to say it. Jerry Rice ran a 4.6 in his 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine in 1985. Jerry Rice was the 3rd receiver taken in the draft at 16th overall. Best receiver in NFL history isn’t too bad now is it?

Vince Young might have scored a 6 on his first attempt at the dreaded Wonderlic exam, otherwise known as the IQ test for dummies, but no matter what that test says the dude can play ball. He might have had some trouble throughout his NFL but you don’t win an offensive rookie of the year award for doing nothing. Young may not have the best throwing style or put in the effort to make himself the best player he possibly could be, but he makes things happen on the football field.

The intangibles of players that you don’t see at the NFL Combine need to be taking into account more. College success may not always translate to success at the NFL level, but if you have a player who has proven he can make things happen it might be best to overlook some of those supposed physical “deficiencies.” Not to say that a guy’s draft stock should improve simply because he was a good college player, rather I mean that, for example, a player projected as a first round talent prior to the combine should not necessarily lose that status because of a weaker than anticipated performance.

This isn’t to say that the combine means absolutely nothing either. Chris Johnson was projected as a mid-round pick until his ridiculous 4.24 time that launched him to 24th overall in the 2008 draft. Take your Combine with a grain of salt.

So watch the Combine, have a ball, but beware of the foolishness.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at You can also follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favor.

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When will they ever learn?

Michael Vick looks to be in trouble with the law again

In the past decade, professional sports has been a revolving door for players who are repeatedly involved in off-field incidents and it seems that this trend is going to continue.

Today, more details were released with regards to the shooting that occurred after Michael Vick’s birthday bash last Thursday night.

It was initially thought that Vick left the nightclub w,here his “ALL WHITE 30th birthday bash” was taking place, at least 10 maybe 20 minutes before the shooting occurred. However, time stamped video shows that Vick left the nightclub at around 2:07am and that the shots rang at about the 2:10am mark.

The shooting victim has now been confirmed to be Quanis Phillips, a party attendee and a co-defendant of Vick’s in the federal dog fighting case. Vick is not a suspect in the shooting, but part of his probation states that he is not allowed to have contact with anyone convicted of a felony unless granted permission by his probation officer. Vick claims that he did not invite Phillips and that he did not associate with him at the party.

No one right now knows the real story behind this but time and again we are seeing the same athletes unable to stay out of trouble off of the field.

It is possible that this incident is going to spell the end for Vick’s NFL career as the NFL has said that they have a zero tolerance policy with regards to Michael Vick’s case. Even if this incident wasn’t Vick’s fault or wrongdoing, the fact is that athletes are constantly putting themselves in situations where they are almost asking for trouble. As Colin Cowherd says, “nothing good ever happens at 2 in the morning.”

It would seem like it is about time that these players start to shape up and get with the program? Sure doesn’t look like it to me. I think that the small percentage of professional athletes that get in the news for their off the field altercations are always going to be around and that is something that is not going to change.

You would think that these people would learn from their own but also from watching the mistakes made by other athletes. I always wonder why they don’t learn, but what I think many of us fail to consider, is that change is not as easy as it looks or sounds. My question is whether these athletes are mentally capable of stopping themselves. This is not an attack on these athletes’ intelligence, rather it is a question of overcoming inborn personality traits and characteristics that lead them in the direction of their oblivious decision making.

It is mind boggling to see professional athletes willingly throw away fame and fortune.

If you are over the age of 15 I am sure you have heard a bit about the Nature vs. Nurture debate. Well, I’m a big believer that nature prevails in most situations. There is no doubt that nurture plays a fairly large part in the development of a person but in the end you cannot change who you are. You may be able to change your appearance to society and those around you, but in the end your true colours will eventually triumph. Just ask Tiger Woods.

Adam “Pacman” Jones is a prime example of a talented athlete who was given repeated opportunities to reconcile but decided not to take advantage of them. Jones’ legacy could very well end up being the professional athlete that couldn’t get away from strip clubs.

Pacman was drafted 6th overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2005 NFL draft but missed most of training camp due to a contract dispute. Apparently the Titans were concerned with several off the field incidents that happened shortly after the draft. This included a fight that put him on probation.

Then in April of 2007, after Pacman’s breakout sophomore season, he was suspended one year for numerous off-field altercations. In 2008 was traded to Dallas where during the season he was suspended for four games because of a dispute with his bodyguard. Later, in January of 2009, the Cowboys announced they would release Jones after officials learned that he was a suspect in a June 2007 shooting outside a Las Vegas strip club.

Pacman was given more than enough opportunities to succeed and leave himself financially set for the rest of his life but against better judgement he decided to take a different route.

Needless to say, but Ben Roethlisberger drinks like a champion

Another star who has had a number of incidents is Big Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has had not one but two incidents involving women who have accused him of sexual assault. As an observer from the outside you figure one time isn’t so bad, it could just be a crazy woman looking for some attention. However, when you hear the same allegations twice you do not give the same leeway to a person. Roethlisberger will be suspended for the first six games of the upcoming NFL season. Big Ben is also well known for his hard partying ways.

The jury is still out on Ben Roethlisberger as he already has two super bowls to his name despite his problems off the field.

One other guy I want to mention is Tennessee Titan quarterback Vince Young who has also had a number of issues off the field. Despite some of his early on-field success, Young went missing for a bit in 2008 because he was upset over being booed by Titan fans and spraining his left MCL in his knee. Young almost lost his job but was kept on and had a nice little comeback season last year after being reinstated as the team’s starting quarterback. But this past offseason Vince Young got into a fight at a nightclub with a person who allegedly made some derogatory remarks about his alma mater Texas Longhorns.

So yet again, just when it looked like Vince Young was turning the corner and becoming more mature he, like so many others, regressed back to his old ways.

Yes it is true that maybe Vince Young was provoked. Maybe Michael Vick didn’t do anything wrong at his own birthday bash. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger did not rape these women. Maybe Pacman was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I don’t buy any of those maybe’s but even if they aren’t true there is no denying the fact that these players are putting themselves in a position to get in trouble. Is it really that hard to avoid a nightclub or a strip club. It’s great to have fun but why would you ever risk all the things that you have worked so hard for in your life just for a bit of entertainment?

They all talk the talk and say that they are going to rescind their old reckless ways, but walking the walk is a whole other beast.

Why the —- is Michael Vick going to a nightclub for his birthday. When you’re under the kind of scrutiny that Michael Vick is under it is completely nonsensical to do that.

Is it that these guys think that they’re stars and feel invincible?


But as I said earlier I think that it is more to do with athletes unable to resist. Unable to resist the temptations of being a star, the spotlight, and everything else that the life of a professional athlete has to offer. I think that they are people who live off the adrenaline of life. It is who they are and it is how they get to the top of their profession. They can’t force themselves to make the smart decision.

Michael Vick, Adam “Pacman” Jones, Ben Roethlisberger, Vince Young, Tiger Woods, Plaxico Burress, the list goes on. If you’re asking yourself when will they ever learn?

The simple answer is probably never.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Also check out howiGit’s blog, a guaranteed great read every time.

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