One of the most anticipated off-season events for National Football League teams wrapped up this week: the NFL scouting combine. The combine takes place annually in Indianapolis and was created to allow NFL team doctors to administer physicals to college players entering the draft. Over the years it has become a full-fledged scouted workout. Players are measured for height, weight, hand size, and arm length. They are timed in the 40-yard dash and shuttle runs. They show off their vertical leap and bench press. Teams end up with a portfolio of numbers measuring the value of the players.
Such numbers and metrics are useful because they allow for clear comparisons. In spite of that clarity, the combine results provoke a spectrum of interpretations and responses.
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Time has proven that putting too much stock in the workout numbers is a bad idea. “Workout warrior” is part of the NFL lexicon because of players who can run and jump and trick teams into thinking they can play football. The Oakland Raiders have a reputation for loving these players (and look how well that’s worked out).
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When I see a team like the Raiders falling for the workout warrior year after year it reminds me of many in the American church who ignore track record or proven ability for the sake of flash. Leaders fool us. Trends entice us. Programs look so perfect.
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