The NFL has been riddled with scandals over the past decade.
None were more damaging than the anti-American anthem protests that still haunt the league.
Now the NFL got banned from doing one jaw-dropping thing.
The NFL draft combine is the biggest job interview in the world for anyone hoping to play professional football at the highest level.
Players’ height, weight, hand size, 40-yard-dash time, and other measurables are collected.
But one controversial part of the draft combine process has been the player interviews.
Several coaches and executives have been hammered for asking inappropriate questions, and now teams can be docked draft picks for doing so.
The NFL has issued a warning to teams that they could lose a draft pick and face significant fines if club representatives conduct themselves unprofessionally in interviews with draft prospects. In a memo obtained by ESPN that was sent to clubs Wednesday, the league said a team would forfeit a draft pick between the first and fourth rounds and be fined a minimum of $150,000 if it’s determined a club representative displayed conduct that is “disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional” during an interview. Fines and/or suspensions of individual club employees also could be imposed, according to the memo.
The new rule comes after stories of players being asked about their sexuality, the suicide of a parent, or whether or not their mothers were prostitutes.
In 2010, then-Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland apologized to Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Dez Bryant for asking during a pre-draft visit whether 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 his sexual preference.
In 2018, former LSU running back Derrius Guice said one team at the combine asked about his sexuality and another inquired if his mother was a prostitute.Guice said one team at the combine asked about his sexuality and another inquired if his mother was a prostitute.
Players have also been grilled about drug use.
Former tight end Benjamin Watson, a devout Christian and staunch pro-life advocate, said of his combine experience:
“I can remember sitting in a dark room with a huge spotlight…There’s a seat there like you’re being interrogated for a crime and all the front-office staff is in the back in the shadows and you can’t see them. The guy grabbed my wrist and he’s like: ‘I can feel your pulse, so I know if you’re lying to me. Have you ever smoked marijuana?’ I said: ‘No.’ I really hadn’t. I’ve 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 minute, I thought I actually did smoke marijuana, and maybe I need to confess to a crime that I didn’t commit. But these sorts of tactics that are happening at the combine and that are not being monitored definitely need to be done away with.”
The NFL teams understandably want to do their due diligence on a prospect they’re going to pay millions of dollars, there is a line between research and inappropriate prying.
If a team crosses that line, it will cost them as high as a first-round pick, and first-round picks are prized possessions in the NFL.