NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith Calls For End Of NFL Combine
NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told reporters Wednesday that he wants to get rid of the NFL Combine and suggested replacing it with regional pro days. Smith’s comments echo those of NFL executive Troy Vincent, who compared the combine to a “slave auction” at an owners’ meeting in December.
“Think about it … the NCAA and the NFL structure a combine during what should be every football player’s what? Last semester in college,” Smith said at the NFLPA’s annual Super Bowl press conference. “Who decided that it was a good idea to take your son and have him exclusively try out for the NFL’s exclusive way of getting into the league, for the most part, unless you’re a free-agent player? You have to be invited to the combine.”
Smith went on to say that players had to agree to difficult conditions, including what he considered extensive and unnecessary medical evaluations, in order to qualify for the combine. The annual evaluation is the most effective way for players to get drafted to the NFL, a league that controls a virtual monopoly over the most competitive football in the country.
“We’re now in an era where we know exactly how fast these guys can run, how much they can lift, how far they can jump, do all of those things,” Smith said, referring to abundant scouting information available online. “Why do we insist on them showing up in Indianapolis? It’s not for anything physical, right? It’s for the teams to be able to engage in intrusive employment actions that don’t exist anywhere else.”
Back in December, Vincent went even further than Smith, claiming that the combine dehumanized players by reducing them to strictly physical attributes. At the time, several owners came forward to vigorously deny Vincent’s claims, arguing that teams had to have an understanding of such traits before drafting players. They also argued that the combine offers a platform for players to promote themselves.
Smith’s argument seems to cut through many of the owners’ defense, as regional pro days would offer teams a chance to evaluate players on the field without nearly as many restrictions. Such a system could also allow more players to receive attention from teams before the draft, expanding the number of opportunities the league can provide to lesser-known athletes.
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