The NFL is a juggernaut. Outside of the billions they make annually, the television ratings towering over all other live media and the never-ending talk on every corner of the internet – they know how to hook people. Admit it, you don’t ALWAYS want to watch football. But you do. It’s on the bar or restaurant TVs when you go out. You put it on in the background when working around the house. You plan your social engagements around it. No matter your engagement, it’s hard to ignore. They moved the draft to PrimeTime thinking people wanted to see young men only in not always ‘nice suits’ get their names called. Guess what? We did! They give us Thursday night football which isn’t always football how we expect it. And we love it!
They moved the combine to attract more people. And guess what? Meh. I mean, we all like looking at the 40 times, the bench press records, the overlays between previous runners, and this years fastest. But do we REALLY care? I don’t think so. Do you know why? Because it isn’t any good. It isn’t their fault – it’s ours. We haven’t complained enough. We haven’t written our Congressman demanding better product.
Good news though, I’m here to save us all. Like Willy Wonka, I’m the mad scientist. You may not always like the ideas, but you’ll walk away licking your lips. A little old. A little new. Also, just a tiny bit of competition. Here is my way to save the combine for all of us, including the NFL.
First let’s get to the events we keep. The 3 cone drill, the vertical jump, the broad jump, and the bench press. They are events that showcase athleticism in all positions on a field. However, there’s a twist, well, at least for one of these. The bench press will now pit two players against each other at the same time. No, not kickers against defensive lineman (although admit it, you wanna see that), but why can’t two go at the same time? Scouts are more than capable of reading totals of bench presses if by chance they miss them. The NFL is competitive, why can’t it start now? Like women’s tennis of yore, the grunting would be loud and distracting. It’s all part of the fun.
Now, to the new events! Well, some are new. Others, we just tweak a thing or 3. First, we throw the 40 yard dash down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos. Yeah, it’s the most exciting event, but that is because they tell us it is. They have built their whole schedule around this event. It is the best 4-5 seconds in sports, right? Wrong! Guys in underwear with 8 weeks of training SHOULD be fast. If they aren’t, there’s a big problem. Or maybe they’re just a bad test-taker. Either way, we can do better. My suggestion? A 40 yard shuttle drill. Guess what folks, that’s not all. We are going two at a time! 5 yards forward, 5 back – 15 forward and those final 15 coming back hard. Agility, quick feet, short bursts, and guys leaning like it’s the Olympics to eek out every hundredth of a second.
Our next event? The 70 yard shuttle! Another shuttle you say? Well guess what, we have two shuttles now. Did you know that? Probably not. This shuttle is solo, all alone out there in a sea of green. 15 forward, 15 back. 20 up, and a very long twenty back. It allows for the same agility of the shorter events but stamina is necessary. Wanna see how lineman finish off screen passes down field? Receivers get to their break points? Its fun for everyone, except those running it.
Last and certainly not least, our newest event. Like a shiny new car, I’m ready to bring it out for a spin. Here it is…the dead hang. Boring you say? Not athletic enough? Psssh. We put two men side by side holding their weight against gravity and each other. The dead hang incorporates upper back muscles, shoulders, core, forearms and hand/wrist flexors. It isn’t a going event, much like the 40. But it’s wayyyyy better. It’ll take time. People will complain. We don’t like change, unless the NFL tells us to.
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