NFL Network is providing exclusive live coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine this week.
However, what viewers will not see are the private interviews that NFL club executives are having with any of the 300-plus Draft-eligible players. The league office has made it clear to the clubs that it expects a higher standard of professionalism, respect and dignity during this year’s interview sessions.
“Over the last several years,” league executives Todd Jones and Troy Vincent wrote in a recent memo to General Managers & Head Coaches, “there have been occasional reports of improper and/or offensive questions being asked of players during pre-draft and free agent interviews conducted by clubs. These actions reflect unfavorably on the entire League and are not aligned with our current values.”
The Jones-Vincent memo also reminds clubs that questions should be relevant only to job-related functions. Open-ended questions such as “Tell me about yourself” or “How would you describe your character?” are best. Many of us probably recall one or two “off-the-wall” questions that club executives or scouts asked us during Combine interviews.
The memo provided samples of “Acceptable” vs. “High Risk” questions that should—or should not—be asked.
Below are five examples of questions to consider and those to avoid:
- We often practice and play games on weekends and holidays. Would you have any problems meeting our schedule?
- Are you on probation or parole?
- Have you taken a firearm safety course?
- Do you drink alcohol?
- Have you received an FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine?
- Is playing on Christmas going to be a problem for you?
- Do you believe in God?
- Have you ever been charged with criminal weapons possession?
- Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
- Do you have a drinking problem?
- Have you had COVID-19?
Clubs also were told that, if after proper investigation it is determined that club representatives conducted themselves in an inappropriate or unlawful manner during an interview, the club reps could be fined or suspended and the club itself may be subject to a minimum fine of $350,000 and loss of a high draft choice.
We at NFL Alumni support the league’s new sensitivity at the Combine so that tomorrow’s players will not be embarrassed in the way some of us were during these pre-employment interviews.