With the NFL combine over and individual schools’ Pro Days starting, what better time to find ways to make next year’s version even better?
It’s a basic truth of football that things like a player’s 40-yard dash time will be blown way out of proportion.
Then there’s the infamous Wonderlic test, which proves you can score a 6-out-of-50 and still play in the NFL — even though the result would seem to indicate Vince Young should be having trouble breathing on his own, let alone quarterbacking a football team.
But something’s missing.
It seems like the combine has it down: they have most measures of strength, speed, agility, intelligence and character to boot.
But why not be efficient and merge the personality aspects of the combine with the physical side?
That’s why the combine needs a dunk contest.
Before you get too incredulous about that idea, hear me out.
First, it would obviously demonstrate a player’s physical jumping ability while on the move, which is a better indication of what you’ll actually see on the gridiron.
Second, by some divine coincidence, the height of a basketball rim — 10 feet — is the same as the height of the crossbar on field goal posts.
What respectable NFL player can’t dunk the ball on the uprights after scoring a touchdown?
Not only do you get a measure of physical tools with the dunk contest, but it gives players an opportunity to flaunt their showmanship. The NFL is a business after all, and it’s in the field of entertainment.
Teams can get a better indication of a guy’s personality through his dunking style — and also measure leaping ability. Besides, they need to add some entertainment value to what is essentially watching large men grunt and sweat for a few days.
You want entertainment value, Adam? Forget slam-dunk contests.
As long as LeBron James is watching from the sidelines, a dunk contest is something I will quickly refuse to observe. Sure, it may have something to do with the fact that I had to Google the names of 50 percent of this year’s NBA dunk contest (I’m still not sure to this day who DeMar DeRozan is).
What’s more, I’m pretty sure all that can be done on a 10-foot hoop has been done. So, as long as the height of the rim — and a field goal post — is only 10 feet, count me out for any future dunk contests.
Plus, if there’s anything I’ve learned from the Winter Olympics, it’s that judges should not be an integral part of any truly competitive sport. I’m OK with referees, though they tend to be untrustworthy at times as well, but judges are a deal breaker in my book.
Why take the dunk contest when you could borrow so much more from other sports?
Home run derby, hockey skills and three-point contests come to mind, but I say why not choose something in a sport they’ll be playing for the rest of their lives?
No, not football. Golf.
These future pros may not be getting paid to play golf, but you can rest assured plenty of those ridiculous signing bonuses will go toward greens fees.
Get Callaway, Ping, Taylor Made or any other driver manufacturer to donate a handful of drivers and hold a long-drive contest at a local country club, or indoor driving range if necessary.
It doesn’t get much better than watching a golf ball fly 300-plus yards down a fairway. Plus, if I can do it every 50th drive, why can’t these high-caliber athletes do the same?
Give each player a bucket of balls to warm up, then 10 attempts to hit the longest drive. Anyone who hits above a 350-yard drive automatically gets an extra $1 million added to their signing bonus. You may drive for show and putt for dough, but the NFL could change that.