So in this time of football-deprivation, I've been watching Michael Irvin's 4th-and-Long reality show. And I've gotta say I've enjoyed the show so far, especially the appearances of the legendary Cowboys of old (although watching Nate "the Turk" Newton is truly painful). The competition has had its entertaining and compelling moments, even if remain skeptical that Irvin will indeed be able to deliver the "ballplayer" that Jerry is looking for. The desire and drive that the remaining players have shown throughout the competition has left me thinking: this is what the NFL Draft Combine should look like.
Now obviously this will never happen. But indulge my fantasy for a few moments. What if all draft prospects had to go through the tests of skill, desire and endurance that Irvin, Bates, and Coach Joe have created. Quickness and agility? Trade in the short-shuttle, 3-cone drill, for the field length chase-and-tackle drill. Strength? Replace 225 bench presses with the 2-on-1 tackling drills and hold-on-to-the-F-in-Ball mayhem. Forget the overanalyzed 40 times, unless you're talking about timing the guys at the end of a 2-hour practice. And is there any doubt that a "finesse" player like Barby Carpenter would not have cracked the 5th round, mush less the 1st, if the Cowboys had had a chance to watch him struggle through the rain-drenched guantlet of pain and mud that the Playmaker put his recruits though a few week back?
Say what you want about the show, which my wife has dubbed "The NFL's Next Top Model," but I think that Irvin and co. have developed much better way of evaluating talent than the NFL combine/interviews/pro-days. Given the huge value of rookie contracts, I think it would be worth the occasional injury to separate the football players from the divas before the draft. I can't think that the Charles Rogers's and Mike Williams's (either one) of the world--not to mention their agents--would love the idea, but the league would be better without them anyway. So, Mr. Comissioner, how about putting the Playmaker in charge of turning the amateurs into pros--now THAT would be some quality television!
That's it, now I can go back to scouting CFL preseason games...