My name is Jerry. And I’m an NFL combine addict.
It’s hard to know for sure where it started for me. I suppose like a lot of us, I got my first taste as a teenager, reading next-day reports in the daily sports pages. I can remember how good it made me feel, all that talk about prospects and scouts walking around with stopwatches.
Then as I got older, SportsCenter started showing the highlights. There was just something about seeing all those future NFL stars, all potential and gym uniforms, running around cones and lifting weights; like they were invincible and so was I. And thinking about the football season during the dead time of the sports calendar made me feel warm all over.
I also had friends and family who enjoyed the combine as much as I did and we’d get together and talk about what was going on down in Indy. So I just sort of considered myself a social combine user. I liked it. I used it in moderation. I had it under control.
Then NFL Network debuted and started running non-stop combine coverage. Soon, a thousand 40-yard dashes weren’t enough, and one was too many. I started missing work. Finding any excuse I could to stay home and watch it. I started lying to myself that I could handle it. That I had it under control.
Soon my family started noticing the warning signs. They found the offensive linemen bench press on the DVR. I was able to explain that one away. But I started moving on to the hard stuff. Defensive back 3-cone drills. Shuttle runs. Linebackers doing the vertical jump.
It didn’t take long before I spiraled out of control. I kept saying things to my loved ones I’d never said before. Things I didn’t mean. I used words like “measurables,” “quick twitch” and “fluid hip turn.” I once called my beautiful wife a “wardaddy” but said she’d need “more sand in the pants to make it as the next level.” It was like I was a different person. I wasn’t controlling the Indianapolis Kennel Show, it was controlling me.
Rock bottom came when I missed my son’s school band concert because I was on NFL.com going over the hand measurements of all the quarterback prospects. That’s when I realized I’d need to get the combine monkey off my back before it too late.
Which brings me here today, the start of the dog and pony show we call the 2015 combine. NFL Net and ESPN are all over this thing all day. And I have a NFL draft to get ready for. So that’s the challenge for me. To watch the coverage, get the results, hear all the impressions, but not to get so caught up in it I lose sight of what’s really important.
Mostly I’ll try to remind myself that the combine, for all it’s temptations, is really just an exercise in futility. That it’s not football. It gives you almost no indication of how good a player a prospect will be. I’ll try to remember all the great NFL players who weren’t even invited to the damn thing (looking at you, Julian Edelman). Or the workout warriors who measured off the scale but who couldn’t play a lick (>cough< Mike Mamula >cough, cough<). Mainly I’ll watch that video above over and over to remind myself that the most accomplished quarterback in the history of the game had a workout that made him look like he had a future working in a cubicle somewhere.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. They’re doing the offensive line and tight end running drills right now. Remember to use the combine responsibly.