The Good, The Bad and The Goofy of the 2010 NFL Combine

Like any writer, I’ve got good days and bad. Sometimes, I wake up, shave, shower and bang out 2500 words, all with enough spare time to grab a lunchtime cocktail afterward (I like those days). Others, I’m groggy, slow, and procrastinate, making myself as valuable to society as Snooki from Jersey Shore.

Also like any writer, my thoughts come to me at all kinds of strange times and in weird places. Laying in bed, walking the dog, showering, whatever. And when those thoughts come, I need a quiet place to write before I lose them, and my motivation to work.

Luckily for me there’s a college library right down the street. Now to you, having a college library right next door might not mean much, but to a writer, it’s like hitting the lottery: Quiet, open at all kinds of weird hours, with nice girls to look at too. And fortunately, I’ve even still got a few years before I turn into the creepy old guy hanging out there. Which is a good thing.

Anyway, a few nights ago was one of those times where I needed peace and quiet, and I needed it at a weird time of night. What was supposed to be a quick stopover turned into a seven hour stay, with me finally emerging from the library well after 1 a.m., bleary eyed, slurry speeched and staggering, like I’d just gone 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao (See what writing does to me?)

Right next to the library is a pretty prominent music school, and as I was walking by I was shocked to hear noise coming from it. I know it’s a music school, but come on, it was 1:30 in the morning, and these kids are in college. Didn’t they have binge drinking to do or something?

Anyway, by now I bet you’re thinking, “Aaron what does any of this have to do with the NFL Combine.” I’m getting there.

My point is, that after spending the better part of the last four days on my couch, in my underwear, watching the NFL Combine, I can never again judge anyone for how they choose to use their time. Ever. Whether it’s playing the flute at 1:30 in the morning, hanging out at adult bookstores, watching The Big Bang Theory, whatever, nothing was as pathetic as me these past four days. Nothing. I am now officially the last person in the world who can throw stones.

Much like waking up after a long night of drinking and looking through your text log, I’m not exactly sure how I got to this place. To use another analogy, the Combine elicited similar emotion to driving by a car crash, once it caught my eye I couldn’t turn away. No matter how bad I wanted to.

But just because the last four days turned into an epic waste of time, doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn anything. Quite the opposite actually.

So for all of you who didn’t have the chance to watch (I know, I know, you had “work responsibilities.” Whatever.) I took copious notes. On the pretty and ugly, highs and lows, and bad jokes and bench presses mixed in. This is “The Good, The Bad and The Goofy of the 2010 NFL Combine.” Enjoy.

The Good: Unadulterated Combine Comedy

You’d think with all these players making and losing millions of dollars with every bench press, broad jump and vertical leap, there’d be some tension in the air. Which there might have been, only you’d never know it listening to Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock and the NFL Network’s bounty of other analysts breaking down the action. I don’t know if they thought nobody was watching or they just didn’t care, but these guys told jokes like they were at the cabaret, and laughed like a couple old buddies sitting poolside and drinking mojitos.

Although I can’t accurately describe how funny they were in print, I’m going to try to anyway. Here are my favorite quotes of the weekend, in no particular order.

Let’s start with Eisen, Mayock and (I believe) Michael Irvin’s thoughts on new Kansas City offensive coordinator (and former Notre Dame coach) Charlie Weis. On Saturday there was Weis, sitting in Lucas Oil Field with a fresh looking bright red polo on. Here’s what the guys thought of his new look:

Eisen: Red is not a good look for Charlie.

Mayock (or maybe Irvin, I can’t remember): Honestly, it looks like he’s wearing a tent.

The next day the guys were back, having a serious discussion about BYU fullback Monase Tonga. Or at least they were trying to:

Eisen: Like so many BYU players, Tonga is already married…

Mayock (cutting Eisen off): Well yeh, they’re not allowed to have sex before marriage…

Eisen (With what I’d guess is a frantic producer screaming in his earpiece): Mike, Mike, we don’t need that kind of evaluation…. I’m afraid you’ll get into his measurables next.

Here are Mayock’s thoughts on a less than stellar performance by former Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike, “4.92 unofficially. Not a good time. He’s got some pale thighs too.”

Finally, my favorite quote of the weekend came courtesy of Eisen. This is him, describing long haired, shaggy bearded Kansas wide receiver Kerry Meier saying, “Meier has a little Matthew McConaughey in him. Apparently (not only did he look the part but), he likes to play the bongos.”

On that note, we should probably just move on…

The Bad: Game Tape

I don’t claim to be an expert on football, and chances are pretty good you probably aren’t either. I’m just a fan. But still, ask any NFL head coach, General Manager or Player Personnel guy, and they’ll tell you, the first rule is this: NEVER fall in love at the NFL Combine (Kinda the same principle they use on the Jersey Shore). Because while a guy may look great in a tight shirt running a 40-yard dash, it should never trump what a season’s worth of game tape shows you.

After watching four days of coverage, I finally understand what they’re talking about.

Take Maryland offensive lineman Bruce Campbell for example. I’ve seen the guy play many times. While I wouldn’t call him “soft,” I wouldn’t exactly call him aggressive either. And even though he had all the physical tools to dominate anyone in college football, it just never clicked. Honestly, half the time, he played with about as much excitement as a strip club bathroom attendant after finding out that someone threw up in the toilet.

But I also saw him at the Combine. The guy measured out at 6’6 and 314 lbs. His neck was roughly the size Delaware. His shoulders and biceps looked like they were chiseled out of granite. Basically, if Bruce Campbell was hitting on your girlfriend at a bar, you’d give her up rather than start trouble with him.

And with the combine now over, I guarantee you, someone, in some NFL front office, somewhere, is salivating over Campbell, and ready to mortage the entire future of their franchise on him. A week ago they didn’t know who he was. Now they’re ready to pay him millions.

Dumb? Sure, but it happens every year. Someone goes to the NFL Combine with the best of intentions, but falls in love. In this case, love is most definitely fleeting.

The Good: Taylor Mays

After watching basically four straight days of wall-to-wall coverage, I decided to skip the safety’s workouts, get off my couch and go to the gym Tuesday afternoon. Bad decision. Literally almost the second I walked out the door, Taylor Mays ran an unofficial 4.24 40, making him the story of the combine. S**T.

While that time eventually was changed to 4.43 officially, it did bring up an interesting debate between me and my buddy Travis. Mays is 6’4 230 with shoes on. He already has world class speed. Is there any sport, that Mays couldn’t win an Olympic medal at, if you gave him four years to train?

Seriously, think about it. We know he can run fast, imagine if you gave him a track coach. Teach him how to throw the discus or shot put and I can’t think of anyone who could do it better. If Mays ever learned how to skate and hold a stick at the same time, I’d have to think he’d be the most intimidating defenseman in hockey. Put him on the sand and he’d own beach volleyball.

After an extensive text debate (Ok, that’s a lie, it was like three texts, but still), Travis and I only came up with two sports Mays wouldn’t own. The first is equestrian, basically he’d be too big, and would potentially crush the horse he was riding. The other was curling, if only because they probably don’t make those weird ice shoes in his size.

But that’s it. Those are the only two sports. What’re your thoughts?

The Bad: Being A Florida Gator

By this point, we all know about Tim Tebow, with everyone from Mel Kiper to President Barack Obama weighing in on whether he’ll be a successful NFL quarterback. He has a weird delivery, he’s never taken snaps under center, we get it. Seriously, this has turned into the dumbest, most overanalyzed football story since the time that Rex Ryan at three large cheese pizzas in one sitting for charity. Can we please move on? (And for those wondering, yes, I definitely just made up that Rex Ryan story. But I had you for a minute, didn’t I?)

But with all the Tebow talk, it actually overshadowed the bigger Florida football story, the abysmal Combine showing by Joe Haden.

Look, I watched basically every game the guy played at Florida this season. Put him in pads and there’s not a better corner in the draft. Period. He’s quick, athletic and instinctive. As I said before, the game tape doesn’t lie.

But, he also ran two uninspired 40’s, one at 4.57, the other at 4.6, which needless to say, is not good. Especially for a guy who supposedly ran in the 4.3’s at Florida.

Again, I’m not an expert and don’t claim to be. But based on raw, football talent, there aren’t 10 players that should be drafted ahead of Haden. We’ll see if after his combine performance if that holds true comes draft time.

The Good: Deion Sanders

Remember how we were talking about how funny the announcers were before? Well Deion deserves his own mention. He was funny. He was quite insightful. And he did it all in Deion style. Here are my favorite Deion quotes from his appearance during Tuesday’s coverage:

Deion on former Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas, who tweaked a hamstring in his first 40-yard dash and didn’t run again: “Just pack your bags and leave. Get out of town. Do it before anyone see’s ya.”

Deion on Chad Jones, a former safety at LSU, as well as relief pitcher on their 2009 National Championship baseball team: “I like this guy. But if I could throw a baseball 97 miles an hour, there’s no way I’d be standing here. I’d be hanging out at spring training somewhere.”

Deion on former Oklahoma State safety Lucien Antoine, who he started referring to as ‘Kimbo Slice,’ because of Antoine’s goofy beard: “Just remember Kimbo, if you’re going to wear that bandana, you better represent.”

After watching Deion pn Tuesday, my only question is this: Is it possible to rent out Deion for a day to analyze my life? And if so, how much would it cost, because I’ll raise the funds. Even if I have to sell a kidney.

Seriously, I could just picture Deion right now, standing four feet behind me, as I type this article, saying stuff like:

“Oh…My…GOD! What is Torres thinking right now? He doesn’t look confident on the keyboard, his form is all off.

Come on now AT, you’re better than that!”

Whatever Deion’s price is, I’m paying.

The Bad: Uncomfortable Sexual Talk

As I tweeted on Monday, “The NFL Combine: The only place where you’ll hear a grown man describe another grown man as having 34 1/2 inch biceps.” Good times.

Also, with the way the analysts were talking about players hips, you’d think they were judging a beauty pagaent. Size, shape, gearth, dexterity, you name it. Honestly, I felt dirty just for listening.

The Good: Fun Facts

With four hours of coverage for four days straight, there was plenty of dead air time to fill. And luckily for us viewers, the staff at NFL Network did their homework, and spent some of their time giving us fun facts on our favorite players.

Here are my favorites, in no particular order, and I promise they’re all true.

– Former USC tight end Anthony McCoy was once a pizza delivery boy. Unfortunately, he had to quit because he ended up eating more pizza than he was delivering.

– Former South Florida wide receiver Carlton Mitchell’s mom was a cut man in the corner of world champion boxer James Toney. Does that make her a “cut woman?” I don’t know. Quite honestly, I didn’t even know there was such a thing.

– Speaking of South Florida, Jason Pierre-Paul, a former defensive end at that school, can do this.

– Current Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was once an intern at the NFL Network. Hmm.

– And finally, we all know that when these players interview with teams they’re asked weird questions. None was weirder than what potential No. 1 overall pick Gerald McCoy was asked. According to the former Oklahoma defensive tackle, one team asked him, “On gameday, do you wear a jockstrap or G-String.” I wish I was kidding.

The Bad: Aaron Torres

The final “bad,” of the NFL Combine, goes to who else but me.

Beyond walking around in a semi-catatonic state for four days, watching doughy lineman run 40-yard dashes, I myself got a little doughy by skipping my own gym routine. On Tuesday, I finally decided to get off my couch and get there.

Except after watching roughly 20 hours of combine coverage, I thought it might be a good idea to throw on my own form fitting Under Armour workout gear and hit the weights, just like all the guys I’d seen on TV. Can you say, “Bad idea?”

Let me put it to you this way: While I’m not exactly Terrence Cody, I’m also not the kind of guy that should be walking around the gym and looking at myself in the mirror in anything that you’d describe as “form fitting.” Needless to say I got a lot of weird looks. Even by the old guy who wears an eyepatch.

And I learned a very valuable lesson: Acts seen at the NFL Combine should not be performed without the help of trained professionals. If ever.

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About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.