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Is The NFL Combine Worth Watching?

Jason Barrett

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The bane of the NFL’s existence, the NFL Draft Combine, begins in mind-numbing boredom this week. As recently as a few years ago, the combine was nothing but a figment of fans’ imaginations — times, reps and distances printed in a paper or quoted during the draft. Now, it’s part of the NFL’s attempt to be relevant for 366 days of the year. (Don’t forget it’s leap year!)

The combine is reminiscent of the draft in that for years no one figured it would make for entertaining television. Unlike with the draft, however, they were right. While the draft has the built-in drama of a schoolyard pick and hopeful fans believing this is going to be the guy who changes the direction of their franchise, the combine is about as interesting as watching injured football players go through rehab.

How awful is the combine? Let us count the ways:

1. Entertainment: I’d rather be forced to watch college football signing day, the Pro Bowl, a regular-season NBA game not involving the Warriors, a continuous scroll of Kanye tweets and a recording of a Coldplay concert, all showing on one screen while I’m locked down Clockwork Orange style, rather than sit and watch the combine.

2. Value: We don’t even know how much teams value it. It seems to me that if you had 42 games of tape on a player (the amount you’d have for a healthy junior, with 28 for a redshirt junior and 56 for a senior, give or take), that would take infinite precedence over a standing broad jump. I mean, can you imagine this discussion going on in NFL war rooms?

Scout: “He comes off the edge like a freight train. When he played [an All-American tackle] last year, he just man-handled him. Man-amongst-boys type of thing. He’s healthy. He’s energetic. And his coaches say he just soaks up everything you tell him. Dude just loves to put on the pads.”

Scout 2: “I don’t know. His vertical and shuttle were weak.”

3. Boredom: Do you know what’s more boring than watching a guy do reps of 225 on the bench press? Guys doing a standing broad jump. Do you know what’s more boring than watching a guy do a standing broad jump? A guy doing the vertical jump. And do you know what’s more boring than a guy doing the vertical jump? NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.

4. The Marquee Event Sucks. Just like at the Olympics, the sprints are the “best in show” at the combine. Unlike the Olympics, that’s solely because everything else is awful at the combine, so the slightly-less-awful 40 wins by default. That doesn’t mean it’s not terrible, though. The easiest way to tell the combine isn’t a made-for-TV event is that the 40 consists of guys just running 40 yards without competition.

Imagine watching the Kentucky Derby but with only one horse running at a time. Who’d watch that, right? Yet in that case, there’d at least be mile splits to compare and lengths to monitor. The 40 is a gunshot race. It’s over before you know it and if you didn’t have an onscreen clock or announcers you’d have no idea what the difference between a 4.3 and a 4.5 was. There’s a reason Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps race people. It’s because it’s enjoyable.

And anyway, why the 40? It clearly benefits the handful of players with a track background (it’s all in the start) and has no practical usage beyond combine comparisons. Make the guys run with the ball. Make them run crossfield. Make them do anything but run in a straight line. Granted, we all know the correlation between speed and receiving abilities, which is why all those 1980s and 1990s Raiders receivers are in the Hall of Fame.

5. Can It Be Fixed? Yeah, end it. Complete fix.

But that’s not going to happen. So if the NFL is content with the ratings it’s getting for the combine, then Princess Elsa it and let it go. (Sorry, I’ve had a sick baby for a week. LOTS of Frozen which, incidentally, I’d rather watch for the 75th time than watch the combine.) If the league wants to bring in new viewers, however, here are some possibilities:

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Sports TV News

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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Ryan Clark, Mad Dog Get Into Heated Argument on ‘First Take’

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

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Former Pittsburgh Steeler, and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark and recent Radio Hall of Fame inductee Chris “Mad Dog” Russo squared off on Monday’s edition of First Take, with a heated exchange taking place between the two.

After a discussion about Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas meandered into a discussion about whether Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never played another game, Clark said about Hall of Fame voters “they must be voting like you (Russo) vote for the Heisman, where you just vote on whoever the hell you want based off the fact that they play quarterback”.

Russo quickly took exception to the perceived slight.

“Ryan, hold on now,” Russo said, in a louder manner than normal. “You said something, now I’m going to comment. I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born.”

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

“You said something that wasn’t right,” Russo said.

“Lower your voice,” the former Steeler interrupted again.

“I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born,” Mad Dog reiterated, with a lower volume. “30 years.”

“I don’t care about that,” Clark rebutted.

“You’re saying I’m voting for the Heisman and saying I don’t deserve a vote. I’ve been voting for 30 years!”, Russo began to raise his voice again.

“I never said you don’t deserve a vote,” Clark replied before clarifying he disagrees with Russo’s sentiment about the college football award being only awarded to quarterbacks.

It’s not the first time Russo has clashed with First Take contributors. A discussion with J.J. Reddick went viral earlier this year after Reddick told Russo previous NBA players played with “plumbers and firefighters”.

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Todd Frazier Joining ESPN Little League World Series Booth

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

Ricky Keeler

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When people talk about 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, some of the things that are usually mentioned on broadcasts usually is that he is from Toms River, New Jersey and that he played in the Little League World Series in 1998 (won the championship). Now, Frazier will have a bigger connection to the annual event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

As first reported by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati EnquirerFrazier will be in the TV booth (remotely) for ESPN for this year’s Little League World Series. He made his broadcast debut on Monday morning during one of the New England region semifinals between Maine and Massachusetts. 

Frazier told Nightengale that he wants to use this event to begin his second career in the broadcasting industry.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially for the Little League World Series since I’ve been a part of it. I know it and understand it really well. Kind of kickstart my second career here.” 

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

The Little League World Series begins on Wednesday, August 17 and ends on Sunday, August 28. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC.  

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