Next stop, the National Football League

Hope is a powerful thing.

Boredom, too, is a powerful thing.

Combine the two, and the results can be magical. Nerdy, sure, but magical nevertheless.

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This is when we had the energy to actuall pose for pictures.

Each spring, the National Football League invites prospective draft picks to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, a hellish test of athletic prowess designed to give teams a better look at the skills of the soon-to-be rookies. While the drills do not give any clear indication on how a person will actually perform in pads on the field, it at least gives some tangible measurements that can help determine the difference between some players. Failure to perform well at the combine can cause a one-time stud’s stock to plummet, while a through-the-roof performance can elevate players from one round to another.

Clearly this is something my friends and I needed to do.
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Nathan shows off the form he learned from looking up drills on YouTube.

Granted, we aren’t professional athletes, or even semi-professional athletes (except for maybe Nathan Johnson, who claims to be some sort of ultimate fighter or MMA guy). We harbor no dreams of future NFL success, but still, who doesn’t want to know how fast they can run 40 yards? It can be an excellent pick-up line (but only if the girl knows her football): “Hi, I’m (insert name). My 40 time is the only thing about me under 6.”

So, on Saturday, April 18, 2009, we gathered at Powell County’s finest athletic facility, or the one that was most convenient for gathering: Cory Graham’s front yard (for a complete analysis of the day’s events, visit Cory’s site. Invitations were sent to many, but some like Kyle Stacy and Teddy Ray Lacy (and I really wish we were friends with John Wayne Gacy, thus completing the rhyme scheme) had “other plans,” like “moving to a new apartment” and “mowing multiple lawns” and couldn’t make it. One person, my once-esteemed colleague Shane Carpenter offered no reason, leaving us to best chalk it up to a strained labia.

Brinton Epperson also failed to show, saying he had some sort of home thing to do, but he added that he would show up Sunday and run through all the drills on his own. We liked his moxie and gave him the benefit of the doubt, but I’m pulling that benefit given the rain on his make-up day. There’s just something sad (and funny, very funny) about the image of Brinton, alone in Cory’s front yard, running meaningless drills in the pouring rain.

That left this group: Cory, Nathan, Kyle Bush, Jared Dotson, Chad Birch, John Martin, Cody Meadows and me. We agreed to begin at 3 p.m., and Cory, Nathan and I arrived early (well, Cory didn’t so much “arrive” as he “was already there, since it was his house and yard) to set up the area. We carefully marked off 40 yards for our dash, then set up three more cones for the cleverly named 3 Cone Drill. We initially set them up 10 yards apart, but after careful review online (which we were using to find tips on how to best perform the drills), we realized we needed cut that distance in half. Sighs of relief followed.

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Kyle jumps and smokes, not necessarily in that order.

Under ideal circumstances, we would have conducted a wide battery of drills and tests, but unfortunately we could only select a few as dictated by time, equipment and necessity. The actual NFL Combine is spaced out over a matter of days; we were attempting to do ours in about three hours, which was great because by 6 p.m., we had built up voracious appetites.
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The crowd goes wild.

One of the first exercises to come off the board was the Bench Press, in which you press 225 pounds as many times as you can. The official reason was because we did not have a bench with which to press from, nor any weights to actually press.

We wanted to do some positional drills, but we didn’t have enough footballs (we had a total of one, which I borrowed from my nephews) to really do anything with, so the receiver drills got tossed. Also, none of us can throw a football all that well, so it’s hard to measure your ability to catch when the ball is not being tossed in your general direction.

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Cody tried to get us to add Touchdown Dancing as a category.

This left us with one positional test for quarterbacks, testing who could throw the farthest and who was the most accurate. Cory was adamant we keep the quarterback tests, even after Nathan asked why we had to throw a football (something he claimed never to have done before in his life). Cory’s answer was all business: “Otherwise we won’t have any way to evaluate the quarterbacks.’

Well, there you go.

The rest of the drills were general workouts: 40 Yard Dash, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump and 3 Cone Drill. (Again, for a complete look at the results, along with analysis, visit here.

Given the way my lower body ached Sunday and Monday, I, for one, am thankful those were the only ones we did. My legs feel like someone poured concrete around a bunch of razor blades, then wrapped them with barbed wire before inserting it under my flesh. Cory is seeking information on the medical advancements in shoulder replacement surgery.

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My mouth is trying to vocalize the pain shooting out of my legs.

I think it’s less a matter of needing shoulders or knees or hips replaced and more of needing our brains examined. We aren’t necessarily old, but we’re certainly not young either.

So why did we do it? Well, partly because we’re mean and have an inherent nature to measure things. But really, why not hold a combine? Everyone had fun (well, except maybe for Chad, who kept complaining that we had cheated him on his running scores; he was somehow convinced that his mammoth, 6’4” 270-plus pound body could somehow run 40 yards in under 5 seconds), and there was immediately talk of doing it again. Not next year, mind you. More than one person suggested meeting regularly to do the drills because it’s good exercise.

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Chad, running. Scary.

Actually, it’s not a bad idea. The camaraderie was excellent, the workout was intense and the exercises were fun. The only thing that can mess it up now is if one of us actually gets drafted.

There’s always hope.

And short of that, boredom and imaginations.

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5 thoughts on “Next stop, the National Football League

  1. You got me at “strained labia”….this was one of your funniest pieces in a while.

    And you guys are missing parts of your brain housing group to be doing those drills without monetary compensation.

  2. Perhaps you should suggest adding athletic drills to the flu-drive thru! That would certainly get media attention.

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