After a year-long hiatus, the NFL will once again host its annual Combine in Indianapolis. But this year, it will be different from those experienced so far. According to a memo obtained by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the organization informed the 324 invited candidates that they will be placed under a “sanitary bubble”. Their access will then be limited to “secure Combine sites for the duration of their stay, to ensure their protection”.
Thus, each participant will reside in an individual room, and all meals or snacks will be provided to them. Prospects are allowed to invite a “medical support person” – essentially a trainer – who must be fully vaccinated, show no symptoms and wear a protective mask when working with their protege. Conversely, the wearing of facial protection is recommended, but not mandatory, for players and other people attending the gathering. Those who violate these new rules will be disqualified and sent home.
In addition to the health protocol, the training program has also been modified. At the gathering, which begins Tuesday, March 1, players will complete measurements, bench press rehearsals, and workshops all on the same day. In previous editions, these activities were carried out separately. The new organization now plans four days of testing. Medical examinations will occupy the first day, followed by media interviews the following day. The measurements, the bench press and the specific exercises will take place on the third day, before the departure of the players on the fourth day. Prospects will also have the opportunity to speak with the teams in view of the next draft.
Changes that have aroused the skepticism of agents, who fear that players are afraid of injuring themselves by chaining all the exercises over a short period of time. And their reaction was not long in coming. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, 155 players represented by 13 different agencies are ready to announce an official boycott of the event if the rules are not changed. They want access to a full team of coaches and trainers instead of just the support person. The agents apparently have the support of the players’ union. Also according to Pelissero, the NFLPA sent them a memo that outlined its longstanding opposition to the protest.
“We have spoken to several agents to reinforce our long-standing opposition to the NFL Scouting Combine and we agree and support the decisions of those who do not want to attend,” the NFL Players Union said in an email. sent to all agents on Sunday. The combination of the “bubble” proposed by the NFL and the fact that we still have an archaic system where each team doctor examines players and plays them one more time needs to be seriously modified or eliminated. Although we do not represent these players, we have defended their rights to fair treatment. Our union has always encouraged players to take control of their careers early on and we appreciate agents looking for ways to support this goal. »