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Meat Market by Bill Ferrario

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With the NFL's Combine around the corner, it makes me think back to February 2001 when I took part in the NFL's version of a meat market, which evaluate players to be drafted in the upcoming years draft. This was 13 years ago, before every little detail was televised for every fan to see in the luxury of there living rooms. Players now a days can even prepare for what they are going to face by watching previous years combines.

However, my preparation was solely based off of the information my agent prepped me on. I worked out based on what he told me I would be asked to do. I studied based off of the questions and football situations he thought I would be asked about. I had to have 100% trust in my agent because he was my only way to prepare for what I was about to go through.

The fans get to see all the speed and conditioning drills along with the bench test, vertical jump and position workouts. What the NFL Network doesn't show is the meetings with coaches and GM's that last until early in the AM and how coaches fight over who wants to meet with you next. They literally try to drag you away from one team to take you to the next room to meet with another coach and/or GM. I took my agents advice and made a list for who I would meet with along with the order based off of who asked to sit down with me and not let teams sway me away from this order. Most meetings were to evaluate your maturity and intelligence, especially football intelligence. I was drawing up plays and breaking down film. I even had to answer questions about my education and family background. Then came the tests. Yes, everyone knows about the Wonderlick Test, but the countless IQ and personality tests was what pushed you to the edge. Tests with questions asking if you are angered when a police officer rights someone a ticket? Would you report a shoplifter if you saw the person in the act? Do you J walk? I laughed when I saw the movie Miracle and watched Herb Brooks (coach of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team) give the players the same type of test. The only difference was that I had to take about 20 of these. Remember whatever you do at the Combine, you have to do for every team interested in you. Even physicals. Most people dread having there yearly physical. I had to have 32 extensive physicals with team doctors trying to find something wrong with me, as to help teams avoid making a mistake with a draft pick. Keep in mind as I said earlier that all this is done until 2:00, 3:00 and even 4:00 AM, then the drug tests start at 6:00 in the morning. Then back at it again the next day. This is my belief why some guys don't put up great numbers as expected at the Combine. This is a real shock to your system along with a nerve racking emotional couple days.

Then came the measurements. It all started with standing on a stage with roughly 20 other Linemen (because everything is done by position). Oh, did I forget to mention that this is done while wearing roughly a pair of boxers. Yes, boxers. You really start thinking, is that coach whispering to his GM about my stomach? Does he think I am to fat? Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that double cheeseburger on my layover on my way here. The coaches and GM's are sitting in the audience pointing and taking notes. The first and only time in my life I felt self conscious about my size. Ha ha. Then came the tape measure. Everything from my quadriceps, to feet, to arm length and even the span from my thumb to my pinky finer were measured.

Now as a fan I look forward to the Combine. I want to see what the top players can do. Are there going to be any Combine records broken? I especially look forward to watching the Wisconsin Badgers from my alma mater. My fellow NFL friends and I always joke around the Combine time of year about when they will start showing the craziness behind the Combine on television. I hope you enjoy this years NFL Combine now that you know a little more about the behind the scenes. I know I will.

Thanks for reading,

Bill Ferrario
@Bill_Ferrario on Twitter