Armchair Football Coaches Watching the Combines.

My cable provider recently added the NFL channel to our cable lineup, which is absolutely fantastic, since I never watch football games. But it proved to be a good thing this past weekend, during one of the requisite summer barbecues we are all supposed to have during the weekends.

The NFL channel was running coverage of the 2005 Combines, which, for those of you who don’t know, is the premier event in a potential NFL draft’s career. The combine allows select NFL Head Coaches & General Managers to sneak a peak at the upcoming college talent pool. The invitees go through various physical and mental challenges for the team officials as clubs evaluate them. In other words, scouts watch potentials run around a lot doing weird pattern drills for 4 days. Generally speaking, you do well in the combines, you get the nod.

Most of my friends are not in the fitness industry. Nor do they enjoy it when I engage in lengthy discussions of various minutiae regarding biomechanics, metabolism, etc. They are, in the purest sense of the word, laypersons. And yet these laypersons were able to (unexpectedly to me) point out perhaps the most glaring error in the entire combine.

“Why are they running 40s?”

You see, dear reader, if you were not previously informed, the 40 yard dash is probably regarded as the event in the combine, akin to what the 100m dash is to the Summer Olympics. When coaches say, “He’s fast,” the unspoken end of the sentence is “in the 40.” Much of combine prep is based around the 40, while it is but a small part of the criteria for judging the athlete’s performance (the others being Bench Press, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump, 20 Yard Shuttle, 3 Cone Drill, 60 Yard Shuttle, Position Specific Drills, NFL Team Interviews, Physical Measurements, The Wonderlic Test, The Cybex Test, Injury Evaluation, and a Urine test.)

But back to the point: They asked me why the players were being asked to run 40s. And I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders.

“I don’t know why either. Coaches seem to like 40 yard dashes an awful lot.”

My layperson friends realized what coaches and conditioning staff seem not to: that the chance a football player will actually run 40 yards in an actual game is extremely unlikely. And yet, it is been established as criteria for judging a player’s ability.

Well, it certainly makes for good viewing. I had a lot of fun ripping their starting and running technique. Speed camp, anyone?

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