NFL

2022 NFL combine: Players mulling skipping event, participating in drills unless ‘bubble’ concessions made

Over the weekend, the NFL made it known that players participating in the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine would do so in a “bubble” environment. The combine informed prospects that they would be allowed one “medical support person” — essentially a trainer — inside the bubble with them, and that person must be fully vaccinated. Additionally, the combine made it known that all meals and snacks would be provided by the combine. 

Not only that, but there was also a change to the schedule, with the players doing measurements, bench press and on-field workouts during the same day. In previous combines, measurements, bench press and on-field workouts were performed on separate days. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, agents and team executives were not happy about these changes. “You’re gonna have guys afraid to get hurt,” an AFC team executive said in a story written by CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. Jones added that agents are trying to apply pressure on the league in hopes of achieving some concessions.

CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora reports that many players are planning not to go to the combine at all unless changes are made, while others are considering appearing for medicals but not partake in any drills. 

On Monday, we got a clearer view of the unhappiness on the agent side. Here’s a full quote from a so-called “well-placed source,” via ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Agents are getting on the same page to ask the Combine to unbubble, thereby giving players complete access to their physical therapy and performance teams. Additionally, they are asking for a change to the scheduled day of bench press testing in a return to all previous years. 

“Agents are NOT threatening a boycott, but rather considering advising the players en masse to hold off on workouts until pro day. They will still encourage players to participate in medical, interview, and non-physical testing. Clubs have expressed privately that they are fine with players not working out at the Combine, and are more interested in seeing players put their best foot forward.”

This is pretty transparently a quote from an agent trying to put the best possible spin on the situation from his or her perspective, but that perspective also makes a degree of sense. 

Players being tested on their athletic ability don’t want to have those tests done in a suboptimal environment, and would rather do the same tests at their pro days. Not every team in the league will descend on those pro days like they do the combine, but players can still go to that event and participate in interviews and medical testing. The athletic data will still make its way to the teams, but at a later date — and players won’t have to perform under less-than-ideal conditions. 

The issue is that the league televises the combine and wants as many players as possible to do all the workouts. If players are going to hold off from those workouts en masse, it puts one of the signature pre-draft events in jeopardy. With the combine a little more than a week away, there will have to be some sort of resolution to this issue quickly, or we’re going to get a very different event than what we have grown used to.



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