NFL teams may lose choices for interview conduct

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The NFL has issued a warning to teams that they could lose a draft pick and face significant targets if club representatives behave unprofessionally in interviews with draft prospects.

In a note obtained by The Associated Press sent to the clubs on Wednesday, the league said a team would lose a draft between the first and fourth rounds and be fined a minimum of $ 150,000 if it was determined that a club representative was behaving , who is “disrespectful, inappropriate or unprofessional” during an interview. Fines and / or suspension of individual club employees may also be imposed, according to the memo.

“We aim for dignity, respect and professionalism,” league manager Troy Vincent told the AP. “It’s that simple.”

The league also plans to eliminate the Wonderlic test for potential players, and it is revising some of its scouting combine drills to better simulate game-related movement. Wide receivers and close ends will run intersecting routes instead of wheel routes, and running backs will run option routes instead of corner and post-corner routes.

Some exercises for offensive linemen and defensive players were also revised to better assess player movements in the game.

The league annually reminds teams prior to the combination that federal and state laws as well as the collective agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association prohibit discrimination based on various factors, including race, color, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin and marital status, and issues. whether these topics are excluded. This is the first time the NFL has threatened specific accountability measures if asked about draft prospects on any of these topics.

“All clubs should ensure that potential draft picks are offered a respectful and professional NFL environment – an environment that is consistent with state and federal law and our shared commitment to respect, diversity and inclusion,” the memo said. “The same is true of free agents that your club may consider signing. It is also important for your club to reinforce to potential players the value that your club places on character and the behavioral standards expected of everyone associated with it. NFL. “

The NFL has been looking for ways to improve the professional and medical experience for draft prospects on the combine.

Customers are encouraged to report abusive behavior without retaliation.

Over the last many years, there have been occasional reports of inappropriate issues in draft prospectuses.

In 2010, then-Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland apologized to the Dallas Cowboys first-round pick, Dez Bryant, for asking during a pre-draft visit if his mother was a prostitute.

In 2016, then-Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn apologized to Eli Apple because one of his coaches asked the cornerback about his sexual preference.

In 2018, former LSU runback Derrius Guice said one team at the combine asked about his sexuality and another asked if his mother was a prostitute.

Former NFL tight end Benjamin Watson, who played 16 seasons between 2004 and 2020, compared the interview process to an interrogation.

“I remember sitting in a dark room with a giant spotlight,” Watson told the AP last year. “There’s a seat there, as if you’re being interrogated for a crime, and the whole front office staff is in the back in the shade and you can not see them. The guy grabbed my wrist and he said, ‘I can feel your pulse, so I know if you’re lying to me. Have you ever smoked marijuana? ‘ I said no.’ I really did not have that. I have never smoked. He said, “I think you’re lying. I can feel your pulse. Are you lying to us?” I said, ‘No, I’m not.’

“So for a moment I thought I was actually smoking marijuana, and maybe I should admit to a crime I did not commit. But the kind of tactics that go on at the combine and that are not monitored should definitely be made up. with.”

The league has now taken strong steps to ensure that draft leads are not embarrassed or offended during interviews and medical evaluations.

“These student-athletes should be celebrated, not humiliated,” said Vincent, the league’s vice president of football operations and a former five-time Pro Bowl cornerback.

From a medical point of view, leads will have one orthopedic examination on site as opposed to several previously. Medical interviews will also be conducted almost before the combine.

The combine will be held in Indianapolis again this year, scheduled for March 1-7, but it may move to a new city in 2023-24. Indianapolis, Dallas and Los Angeles offer the right to host the combine for the next two years.

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and events, said a decision on the next host city is expected in May.

“Our fan base is so amazing, and the interest in the combine is getting bigger and bigger every year,” O’Reilly said. “It’s related to interest in the draft, so the ability to find ways to lift this entire post-Super Bowl window and lead into the next year is high on our minds.”

Expanding media coverage with more primetime training and improving the fan experience are among the league’s goals.

“At its core is the combine and will always be a football evaluation event and medical evaluation event for the clubs, but there is such intense fan interest that we spend a lot of time thinking about the development of it,” O ‘said Reilly. “It’s become a significant media event … As we enter Indy this year and beyond, we will continue to find ways to make it more accessible to fans given the massive interest in the intersection between college and the NFL at its best. . “

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