NFL owners get defensive after scouting combine compared to ‘slave auction’ by league executive Troy Vincent

NFL owners get defensive after scouting combine compared to ‘slave auction’ by league executive Troy Vincent

NFL owners get defensive after scouting combine compared to ‘slave auction’ by league executive Troy Vincent

IRVING, Texas — Several NFL team owners took offense at league meetings Wednesday when NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent reported that the NFL’s scouting combine has the makings of a “slave auction,” they told CBS Sports several people present in the room.

Vincent spoke with ownership Wednesday morning, announcing changes to the combine that will involve a less tedious medical evaluation process and a closer look at the questions teams ask draft candidates. The combine and other pre-draft ratings have been criticized for what some consider dehumanizing methods of obtaining information about players.

“We just feel the overall experience, talking to the players, we can be better in that particular aspect,” Vincent told the media later in the day. “So there was, I would say, a good discussion about what that would be like, where we might be, bearing in mind that the combine is the player’s first experience with the National Football League, and there has to be dignity in that experience.

“It’s a great opportunity for young men, but there has to be some form of dignity and level of dignity and respect as they go through this process. That was the general theme around our combine [discussion.]”

Sources within the ownership meeting revealed details of what Vincent said among the team owners which included reference to a slave auction. During the meeting, Vincent’s comments elicited an immediate response from Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who stood up and recorded the offense at him, according to sources. Blank, who has a strong record of diversity and inclusion in his two decades in the NFL, took offense to the idea that he was taking part in or helping to support an event that might be considered racist.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones followed Blank on the microphone. According to sources, Jones has spoken out about the “privilege” of playing in the NFL. He noted how many thousands of college football players there are, how only about 300 are invited to the combine, and how even fewer are drafted.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II went on to note that teams need the information the combine needs to make informed decisions, according to the sources. Rooney, who is chairman of the NFL’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion brought its Diversity Accelerator Program for Coaches and Executives to these meetingsdeclined to comment on the minutes of the meeting.

Then Bills owner Terry Pegula took the mic to make a point that confused many in the room. According to sources, Pegula has not condoned the combine weigh-ins (which are not televised) but seemed to play a devil’s advocate which is ultimately what people want to see.

He then tried to link soccer with women’s tennis, the sport of his daughter, Jessica, who is No. 3 in the world. Bills’ owner appeared to be complaining about the sometimes revealing outfits he says female tennis players are encouraged to wear. Some sources have interpreted his comments to mean that all sports have some level of exploitation. Another source simply called them “inconsistent”. The conversation ended shortly after Pegula’s confused comments.

The conversation wasn’t entirely new, as the combine process has been discussed and changed over time. But the tone of this discussion was noteworthy. Vincent, a former Pro Bowler, has been with the NFL since 2014 as a leader in football operations, and has addressed topics such as kneeling during the national anthem and coaching hiring discrepancies while serving as, in the words he used in an interview with The Root, a “bridge builder” from inside the league office.

Vincent broached the subject of the combine as the entire preliminary process has been overhauled in recent years. The league no longer issues the Wonderlic test, an aptitude exam that has been criticized for its bias and relevance. Before that, the Senior Bowl and Shrine Bowl eliminated public measurements and weigh-ins.

The combine is critical to NFL teams for medical information and player interviews. The league has already adjusted the schedule for next year’s combine, CBS Sports first reported two weeks ago after consulting with players and their representation about best practices going forward.

“The biggest thing the players have brought up over time is: ‘I’ve come in, I’m excited about this, and I have to go and have another medical exam. And I’m sitting in a hospital waiting for four or five hours on a car to the MRI. I need to have more meetings about the same type of injury,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday. “For us, it’s really about trying to improve that experience. And they talk about lack of sleep because they come in at 1 in the morning and then they have to come back at 5, and then they have to perform in the field. perform at the highest level.

“I think that all goes into why we want to make the experience better for incoming players, by making sure they have the best ability to perform. And make sure clubs obviously get this information, but they need to input it appropriately and professionally.”

Medical exams can take a full day for players. They go by position groups in different exam rooms and hospitals during the day, being checked by the doctors of many teams. Hundreds of player scans and MRIs are performed by doctors throughout the week.

The league doesn’t seem to find all the necessary scans, shots and cues. Chief physician Allen Sills gave an example of a college player who may have had a knee injury months before the combine, with a post-op MRI already completed. Sills said doctors could retrieve that MRI rather than forcing the player to get another one in Indianapolis.

The combine is also known for the questions the teams ask potential customers. They go from weird and bizarre to inappropriate and, technically, illegal in a job interview. Cornerback Eli Apple said in 2016 a team asked him if he liked men. Former NFL defensive end Obum Gwacham said in 2015 one team asked him when he lost his virginity. Perhaps the group’s most infamous interview question came in 2010 when then-Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant if her mother was a prostitute. Ireland later apologized to Bryant.

According to sources, Vincent told a story during the ownership meeting about an unnamed black player who was asked by an unnamed team to rap during an interview. It wasn’t clear whether the player had a musical or rap background, but the implication was that — at the very least — a white gamer wouldn’t be asked that question.

“When we talk to [players] During their draft experience,” Vincent said, “we ask ourselves the question: Is there anything we should be doing since your first interaction with the National Football League? And those men are open and sometimes they share things with you, and you scratch your head. You are often ashamed. And you can tell these are things that we can fix, these are things that we can fix to improve the prospect’s entire experience.”

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