2022 NFL Draft combine: Players will no longer be forced to stay in ‘bubble’ as boycott threat avoided

NFL: MAR 02 Scouting Combine
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It was reported Sunday evening that agents representing more than 150 NFL draft prospects were organizing a boycott of all testing, on-field workouts and interviews at next week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis due to harsh “bubble” restrictions, so the league responded. On Monday, the National Invitational Combine released a memo stating that players will no longer be confined to a “bubble” under threat of disqualification. 

The 2022 NFL combine will still have “secure areas,” but players are now permitted to leave those areas during their free time. The combine also initially wanted participants to have just one “medical support person” who must be fully vaccinated with them, but players can now meet with whomever outside of restricted areas. In the restricted areas, they can meet with a trainer/therapist/etc., but only one at a time, per CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones.

While this is a win for players and agents attending the combine, they didn’t get all of the changes they wanted. Jones wrote earlier this week about changes to the combine and how they could lead to players skipping the bench press. Unlike previous years, players will do measurements, bench press and on-field workouts all in the same day.

Here is a portion of the memo sent by the NIC on Monday:

“As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we continue to evolve our Combine policies and procedures in consultation with medical experts. While masks continue to be required for air travel and during medical exams at the Combine (players and medical personnel), wearing a mask at other times while on site is recommended, but not required. We encourage all players to remain within the secure Combine areas at all times for your safety. However, if you would like to leave the secure areas during free time in your schedule, you are now permitted to do so at your own risk. If you prefer to remain in the secure areas and have your approved medical support personnel (physical therapist, massage therapist or approved athletic trainer) enter the secure area to provide medical treatments, please follow the previously communicated procedure and complete the form in Teamworks.”

Earlier on Monday, a so-called “well-placed source” told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that agents were not threatening a boycott, but were instead asking combine decision-makers to “unbubble.” It appears their petitioning has succeeded. 

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