The Veteran Combine: Whom Does it Benefit?
Initially, I was very skeptical when hearing about the new concept known as the Veteran Combine. However, after giving it some thought (and more importantly, watching it on television) I am glad the league agreed to do this. Specifically, three parties are benefitting from this invention. You could argue the fans are as well, but you would have to really love football to follow this closely – and not many do. Let’s delve further into those who are glad the Veteran Combine was created.
This is a given, as guys attempting to get back into the league are finally finding an opportunity. Whether they left the NFL via injury, poor play, or other reasons – this was another shot to be a member of professional football once again. Whether it’s Brady Quinn, Michael Sam, or Jamaal Anderson, all thirty-two franchises gave these guys another glance.
What are the chances that these athletes will actually make a final roster after training camp? It’s tough to say, and each player’s position can either help or hurt him during the comeback. Out of the 105 members attending the event, I could see a little less than a fifth of these guys being signed to teams. However, only a handful (if that) might be suiting up on Sundays.
It’s fairly obvious that thirty-two recipients of this opportunity are the franchises themselves. This is essentially the second wave of free agency for teams – a time when rosters are bolstered with reliable veterans who can make an impact immediately. That being said, NFL franchises are smart and are not going to pick up attendees just to do so. Many teams are likely only scouting either certain positions or athletes.
I would be a bit surprised to see a playoff team, or even a Super Bowl contender include key figures on their roster guy who came from the Veteran Combine. However, strange things have happened in this league before. Personally, I would love to see the Browns do due diligence and upgrade the roster the best way possible – if that includes guys from the Veteran Combine; I’m in full support.
The Perception of the League
The Chris Borland retirement and the ongoing negative look regarding concussions and CTE have not been doing the NFL any favors. Players and domestic abuse were of no help either – while it was not the main intended consequence; this combine should slightly improve the image of the NFL. This event continues to show how many men are fighting tooth and nail to get back into the league; they are clearly aware of the risks and do not care. I’m sure Roger Goodell is hoping to spin this in a positive fashion, proving that the league has not lost a step and is still as powerful as it has ever been.
Conclusion: I am certain the NFL will make this event even bigger as the years go by, but its inaugural experience came with little fanfare. The success of these players, and as a result, NFL teams could increase momentum down the road. I hope the Browns are wise after the Veteran Combine – sign a guy they need and hope he can still be a reliable professional athlete.