7:15pm: True to our suspicions, it turns out a mass boycott of the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine is just what the prospects’ agents had in mind. According to Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, agents who represent more than 150 draft prospects will organize a boycott of all testing, on-field workouts, and interviews at the Combine. If that number is accurate, it represents nearly half of the Combine’s invited athletes.
Further tweets from Pelissero and Rapoport explain that agents are pushing for players to be allowed access to their full team of coaches, trainers, ATCs, etc. If these demands aren’t met, most top prospects are expected to only perform medical evaluations in Indianapolis.
The ball is now back in the NFL’s court as lines have been drawn in the sand.
6:15pm: Yesterday, the NFL informed college athletes invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine of increased restrictions surrounding the event in the effort to create a “bubble” environment for protection against the spread of COVID-19. We noted yesterday that the extreme measures were not sitting well with prospective employees and that displeasure from the athletes involved could soon be voiced.
Well, less than 24 hours later, the NFL Players Association has stepped into the conversation. In a letter sent out to potential Combine participants’ agents, the NFLPA voiced their “long standing opposition to the NFL Scouting Combine.” A copy of the letter was first tweeted out by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
In the letter, the players’ union called out the “NFL’s proposed ‘bubble'” along with the league’s “antiquated system of every team doctor examining players and having them perform yet again.” The Association calls for “serious modification or elimination” of the current system.
Now, the NFLPA has no involvement in the Combine. Players are not usually introduced to the union until their rookie orientations, with the exception being players who participate in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game. The letter acknowledges this fact claiming that “while (they) do not represent these players (they) have advocated for their rights to fair treatment.” NFLPA president and current Browns’ starting center J.C. Tretter tweeted out his thoughts saying, “This year’s NFL Combine is an example of what happens when players are not yet represented by a union.”
Players declaring for the NFL Draft are solely represented by their respective agents. Word has it that many agents have been advising their clients not to participate in this year’s combine, opting to display their abilities at their schools’ Pro Days. We noted yesterday that this is a luxury afforded to players who will certainly have many scouts attend their school’s Pro Day. Players at smaller Group of 5 schools and FCS schools may be relying on the Combine to display their talents and, as a result, will have to subject themselves to the overwhelming restrictions enforced by the NFL.
We are nine days away from the scheduled start of the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, and more updates on the situation are certainly expected. With the support of the NFLPA’s “long standing opposition,” if a significant number of prospects protest this year’s testing, we may see the end of the NFL Scouting Combine as we know it.