Inside The Underbelly That Is The Scouting Combine Media Room

March 2, 2010 – 2:45 pm by Matthew Glenesk

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I know it’s been a while, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been doing some side work for the World Wide Leader, so give me a break while I try to catch mine. Now to the business at hand.

There are a number of disadvantages to living in Indianapolis.

It has no beach, which for a Florida kid is kind of a problem. Any attractive woman 22-years or older already has a ring on her finger. And then there’s the fact that it’s in Indiana.

But Indy isn’t all bad. It’s cheap, people are nice and from a sports perspective it definitely has its perks. One of them being the NFL Scouting Combine. And that’s where I spent the last four days, and it definitely was an amusing four days.

Here is a little behind-the-scenes look at what happens when you fill a room with 400 media members from across the country, including all the NFL luminaries.

- Who says newspapers are going broke? The Chicago Bears don’t have a first or second round pick in this year’s draft, yet the Chicago Tribune sent three writers to the Combine. That’s two more than the local Indianapolis Star sent for a team coming off a Super Bowl appearance. I guess that Cubs sale money is really kicking in.

- I’d like to thank John Clayton for pointing out that the sandwiches served at the Scouting Combine on Thursday were indeed ham sandwiches and not dark smokey turkey. Therefore saving my special spot reserved in Jew Heaven. Baruch atah adonai.

And no, Johnny C. does not have a ponytail. What he has is a meticulously combed wave with a rat-ish flip at the end. And in his sportscoat pocket he keeps a brush to make sure that meticulously combed wave with a rat-ish flip at the end looks just right.

- The big controversy buzzing around the media room was that John Hoover of the Tulsa World asked Tim Tebow for an autograph. I can equivocally say that didn’t happen. Hoover explains it all in detail fairly well in his blog, (scroll down) but it was pretty funny. And I was right in the middle of it. Hoover did get Tebow’s autograph. But he didn’t ask for it. He jokingly asked Tebow if he’d like to take notes for him while they were working on the tape recording situation on the podium. Tebow took the pad and scribbled, “Tim Tebow, 15, God Bless.”

I sat two seats away from Hoover for two days at the Combine, and was there for the aftermath of a Twitter rumor mill that was the long topic of conversation, jokes and how some “stupid blogger could go and do this shit.”. We eventually all got back to work.  Then I got a text from a friend of mine, who I hadn’t spoken to in quite a while that lives in New York City. It read, “rumor is a journalist asked tebow for an autograph, please tell me it WASN’T you.” I laughed. Showed it to Hoover to re-stoke the fire and made sure to tell him that this was from a random friend of mine in NYC, who read about it on a Cleveland Browns fan forum less than 12 hours of its supposed occurrence. An older columnist from The Oklahoman shrugged at the notion of technology. He being the same man who a day earlier wanted to know how to convert “KBs into MBs.”tebowcreation

After all the athletes had vacated and the media room was dead quiet, Hoover had had enough of the whispering around the room and the Web and stood up and yelled at the top of his lungs, “I DID NOT ASK FOR TIM TEBOW’S AUTOGRAPH! PLEASE STOP TELLING PEOPLE I DID. THANK YOU.”

It proved entertaining.

- The Baltimore Ravens radio guy, like I’m guessing most radio guys do, loves to hear himself talk. And boy did he love the word, “tsunami.” Its like God decided to level a part of Chile just so this guy could practice three-syllable words. Highly, highly irritating.

- There were some lighter moments at the podium. Brad Childress drew quite the crowd, which I made sure to sit front and center for. The word urologist was used, and that always gets a group of older men (i.e. media) either laughing or dying a little inside.

Childress drew a larger crowd AFTER his press conference than Falcons head coach Mike Smith did DURING his presser. Chilly had just given the room 10 minutes of schtick and non-information and the media wanted more. They followed him off to the side, the likes of Chris Mortensen, Peter King, and joked while Smith answered questions from the likes of two guys from Atlanta and Steve Wyche, who used to work in Atlanta and was there probably more of a courtesy and and perceived obligation. Poor smith, Childress was a tough act to follow.

- Rex Ryan was even tougher. You know it’s going to be good when you open with the line, “I’ll address what I know you guys are all wondering about, I’ve been working on my abs.” Make no mistakes about it, Ryan is a whale-of-a-man. Unfortunately, we all saw a little way too much of him at that infamous Carolina Hurricanes appearance. But he’s a funny dude, and he definitely knows how to work a room. A lot of people want to know why Rex Ryan and the Jets were media darlings last year. Yeah, they play in NYC, but Ryan offers the media something it craves. Spontaneity and humor. Us media are used to coach-speak. It’s boring, predictable and terribly, terribly cliche.

- You have to love the NFL’s balls. Every day, you walk in and the first thing you see is a dry erase board telling you when specific NFL personnel will be at Podium A. It’s usually got 10 names on it and they range from times of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most of the media leave on Sunday. Most do so as early as possible. The room opens at 8:30 a.m. and writers bang out stories as soon as players/coaches come in. So on Sunday, I walk in and the board just has one name on it. Tom Cable. What time? 3 p.m. When most of the room will be empty and thus less likely to try to toast him on his reliance on right hooks.

Touche NFL. I myself didn’t stick around for Cable’s presser, and I’m guessing few did.

- Perrish Cox had a nice line when asked why he won’t repeat his mistake of missing curfew twice like he did at Oklahoma State in the week leading up to the Cotton Bowl. A reporter reminded him in the NFL, a suspension comes with a fee:

“I can’t let nobody get into my pockets, yo.”

Damn right. That’s sexual assault.

It was a fun four days. And those are just some behind-the-scenes goings on of what is the most watched job fair in the world. So yeah, Indy has that.

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