Recall your first interview? Anticipating the chance to earn your own money, finally putting that education to work and finding a path to define who you’d be over the next 40 years? Remember fretting over spelling errors on your resume, worrying if there was enough content, searching your “rolodex” for recommendations and hoping the campus police wouldn’t report those two outstanding parking tickets?
After running off twenty copies at the local KINKO’s, you set off for FEDEX with hopes that you might hear back from three or four opportunities in the not too distant future. After all, there’s the issue of the student loan, that VISA charge card with the $500 limit and your cousin back home that needs his money back. “Failure is not an option!”
The NFL Combine is the ultimate job interview in professional sports. Where else at the ripe old age of 21 or 22 will potential job candidates, many never having had meaningful employment in their life, be put through a grueling “3 day ringer” of evaluation? Not even NASA astronaut hopefuls are asked to endure this.
Once meant to be a thorough physical exam, it has morphed into the most comprehensive microscopic breakdown of the physical, mental and medical attributes that make up a professional football player. How is ANYONE supposed to prepare for this?
When’s the last time IBM, Hewlett Packard, Yahoo or Google asked potential hires to assemble in one centralized location to compete in;
- The 40 yard dash
- The 20 & 60 shuttles
- The vertical & broad jumps
- The bench press
- The 3 cone
- A dozen or so specialty related drills
What about the myriad of doctors asked to push, pull, poke and prod every angle & orifice of your body? MRI’s on both knees, both shoulders. X-Rays here, pee in the cup there.
How about full head to toe, front and back pictures of your body in HD/color, dressed only in your shorts?
Measurements in arm length, hand span, sitting reach, hip & groin/shoulders & back flexibility?
Taking the Wonderlic (some for the 3rd or 4th time) to measure their “intelliegence”, or perhaps the HRT to gauge their overall mental makeup?
Interviewing 32 times, with upwards of 4 to 6 affiliated members in each individual meeting?
Do they videotape the entire conversation for further examination months later?
I’m sure extensive notes are taken on how candidates dress, how they sit, how they stand, how they annunciate and careful consideration is paid to the length of their hair or position of their baseball cap.
Don’t most job fairs have the national media descending upon them for the pundits to comment on every aspect of the process, many looking to frame who the candidate “really is”?
Scouts, coaches and agents pulling at you in the evenings for “just a few minutes” of your time to ask the same exact questions over and over – many of which have nothing to do with your actual job of PLAYING football.
Did your first interview entail one slip up, one minor flaw, one poor answer or showing that meant the difference in millions of dollars, and perhaps a one & done vs 8 to 10 year career?
The BEST really get it
The top agents understand the importance of NFL combine preparation. They send their prospects all over the country, spending gobs of their own money in hopes of a return on their investment. Those without deep pockets agents are forced to take a “small business” loan to keep up with the competition.
It’s an opportunity to display your collective strengths, yet clearly expose your vulnerable weaknesses.
Parts of the NFL combine are downright sad to observe, others frankly amazing. Nothing can truly prepare a young man for the gauntlet he’s about to run through. Not the personal trainers, not the sports psychologists, not the nutritionists, nor the specialty coaches or former NFL personnel men “moonlighting” as combine prep gurus.
No, the NFL Combine must be experienced as sort of “rite of passage”. But make no mistake, participation is not a “right” but rather a “privilege”, and young men aspiring to professional football careers need to take the NFL Combine preparation process for what it really is – THE JOB INTERVIEW OF A LIFETIME!