I am here in Indy. I am ready for the Combine. This is the official start of the 2004 season. There are 10 weeks until the Draft.
After spending eight days in Houston for the Super Bowl, I jumped back on a plane then into a limo before landing in another hotel room for the NFL's annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Indy has the best transportation to and from the airport – the limos are cheaper than the cabs. Really. I shared the limo with a scout who thinks Clarett "isn't that good" for what that's worth.
Anyway, the college prospects and I will shuffle in and out of town in waves as the different position groups work out for coaches and scouts between Feb. 19 and Feb. 23.
My agent, Benjamin Frankfurter, and I have decided that I won't work out in Indy. Benny thinks I could hurt my stock since, well, I have done no preparation other than to comb through some draft material to read about all these other NFL hopefuls.
I pleaded with Ben knowing that coaches and GMs want to see the kids "compete" this week and wondered what they would say when I outperformed some of these players from big programs who spent the last month at IMG's workout facility in Bradenton, Fla., while I spent the last three post-Super Bowl weeks on my couch longing to be the guy in "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé." I bet that guy can belch the Star-Spangled Banner.
But since I will follow advice and not work out, no one, I repeat, no one will poke or prod me this week. I have been urged to stay out of the RCA Dome altogether (by images of PFW staffer Andy Hart, who actually is in shape and performed rather miserably in a Combine-like workout last year for Patriots Football Weekly).
Last year here, a player announced he wouldn't undergo the physical testing, but peer pressure and his own embarrassment changed his mind minutes later. I learned all about peer pressure when I was younger and there isn't enough Sam Adams in Indianapolis to change my mind. In fact those images of Andy keeled over spitting out water (or was it his guts?) still make me tired.
There are some things I don't mind doing while I'm in town. I mean I am here after all. I've already taken and scored a 32 on the Wonderlic test (two years ago), which while hardly classifying me as a genius, has to be above the average of the prospects that will take the test this week. Not that I'm claiming to be smarter than football players, but I figure the guys who score in single digits on the test have to haul the average down below 32.
That puts me on a fast track to a first day pick. Scott Pioli always says the Patriots are looking for smart players and I feel confident that I understand what a guard does when he pulls (his groin).
I have elected not to run the 40, though, figuring that if Pioli wants my time in that or the shuttle runs, he can call the office and schedule a workout. Or perhaps I will schedule a workout and invite all the teams to come to New England where I still will not allow them to poke and prod, but will run 40 yards and around some cones. How hard is that? You know how many times I ran 40 yards and around cones? Me neither.
I think the scouts would be surprised by my straight-line speed and pure lack of agility. But do I play fast? That's the question. Football isn't played with pulled hamstrings so I figure the longer I wait to run the 40, the more time I'll have to stretch out. I guarantee you I'd do better than the 4-ever Hart ran last year, although my lack of flexibility would potentially cut my workout short.
But this is an inexact science. "They" say so every year to shelter themselves from the picks they blow. So I figure the longer I can keep these personnel people in the dark, the better chance I have to live off potential. Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is a guy getting an actual opportunity because then the coaches see that he can't play. I will not give them that opportunity. If they are here to answer questions, I will ask questions of my own rather than answer theirs. What a cunning strategy. That's why I pay Ben Frankfurter zero percent of my earnings.
I am prepared to be this year's Bethel Johnson, the pick who makes fans yell, "Who?" when I am selected early on April 24. What's that you say? Bethel was the fastest guy at the Combine? You mean he ran here? Forget him. Who wants a role model who is actually willing to show the scouts what they came to see. What a fool. Hey Bethel, you should call my agent next time for advice at 1-800-100-BUCKS. Just ask for Benjamin.
The interview process is always important at the Combine and I recognize that and feel as though I can't hurt myself if I partake in that part of the festivities. I do hope to interview with Pioli while I'm in town, perhaps over a steak at St. Elmo's. No self-respecting human being travels to Indianapolis without visiting the city's oldest steak house. But I have prepared some questions for Pioli to counter the tough ones he will throw at me and the other prospects. If I were a tree, I would be a pine because the needles don't fall off like the leaves on other trees and I've often been called a sap. See, I'm prepared.
In addition to all those running tests that I won't participate in, I won't do the bench press or get on the scale in my underwear while I'm here either. I suffered a shoulder injury (wink wink) while lifting my 4-year-old son the day before I came and I am excused from tossing 225 pounds up (and on to the floor one side of the bar at a time). I always wondered why the bench wasn't padded with a pillow for your head. Wouldn't that be more comfortable?
And why would I expose my physique to a bunch of strangers. My offensive lineman belly inside a defensive back's height might hurt my status and do you know how much money I stand to lose if my draft stock falls?
Ben, my agent, asked me a good question this week. He asked, "Why would you want to go to Indy and work out for teams that might want to draft you? Why would you want to provide them with information so easily while they're all here in one spot? Why make it easy for them?" I thought about it for a minute and then said, "Yeah. You're right. Why would I do that stuff?"
But I walked away wondering how I scored a 32 on the Wonderlic and thinking my agent is for the (hot) dogs.