It is 1,695 miles from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana to the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility in Tempe, Arizona.
It promises to be an interesting fall-out from this staged event, which gives players who have been in the league another chance.
Former Redskins like Adam Carriker, Jeremy Kimbrough, Vic So'oto, Emmanuel Ogbuehi, Matt Veldman and former Terp Da'Rel Scott were participants among one-hundred plus participants on Sunday in what seemed like a great idea.
Only by multiple accounts it wasn't. It didn't seem to be anything more than a poorly run event by typical combine standards according to some of those that were there.
It was supposed to be a carbon-copy of what has become an NFL staple every February in chilly and often snowy, Indianapolis.
There were several problems: The 40-yard dashes were done completely different than how we have become accustomed to seeing at the league combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
ESPN 980 also verified this very odd combine tweak with multiple sources. Of course, nobody was informed of this procedure, and that included the participants, leading to one 'victim' to quip "everyone's times were slower."
Some wondered if the NFL was trying something out new. Some wondered if this was a way to keep players with a certain level of experience and therefore guys that were qualified to be paid more down and out. One wondered if this was just the NFL being the NFL.
Yet, this is exactly what the NFL was trying to avoid, wouldn't you think? Why would they want veteran guys to look bad when they are staging this event?
“Combines have long provided draft eligible players with the forum needed to showcase their skills to NFL teams," says NFL Director of Football Development Matt Birk in a release about a week or so ago by the league.
“The NFL Veteran Combine will give veteran free agents a similar opportunity to work out in front of club personnel in a streamlined process," Birk said.
The release also promised that "the NFL Veteran Combine will serve to consolidate individual veteran free agent tryouts to one location, streamlining the process for NFL teams and participating players. Invited free agents will have the opportunity to perform position specific and timed drills."
They did do position drills and the electronically timed and therefore slower 40-yard dashes.
What they didn't do was other traditional combine drills like the broad jump, vertical jump and three-cone drills. Short shuttle? Nope, not according to two sources.
Participants were not scheduled to perform on the bench press. Why? Nobody has a clue. Why wouldn't you want to see where a participants pure strength is now compared to when he was last measured? There was one exception at least.
The worst part? Participants were repeatedly told and given a schedule up until Saturday that they were going to get the opportunity to participate in the above mentioned combine related drills. They only did a modified version.
From what I understand, Matt Birk, who put this entire event together may have had his legs cut out from underneath him. He was apparently under the impression that the participants were going to get a full opportunity as of Saturday night. From what I heard, he was overruled.
There were other issues with the entire event. A constant changing of schedules, poor communication in general, a changed breakfast and bus schedule Sunday morning as opposed to the way it was scheduled on Saturday night, and then there was the performance surface.
As many know, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis is field turf. I can obviously confirm that it is, because I have been there in person twice, and walked on it as recently as late November.
The surface that the NFL used for the first ever vet combine? Natural grass. Outdoors. The 40-yard dashes were run on synthetic turf, but the drills were outside.
Another concern for some Sunday? Apparently the scales were off by in some cases five to seven pounds, and were measuring lower than expected.
That doesn't seem like a bad thing right? It is if you weigh in at a lower number than you were expecting but then you run a timed score much higher than anything you have ever run. That doesn't look very good when scouts and teams compare this new measurable data as a significant factor in whether or not to bring you in for a individual team workout or on a signed contract.
This may have started as a great idea, but if the NFL is going to really utilize this, it would be a great idea to have this run like a carbon copy of what we see in Indianapolis. Have it as part of the event in February when everybody in the NFL is gathered in one spot. You know, apples to apples. The same surface, the same time of the year, the same drills, the same set-up.
It's more than possible and very likely that a lot of the evaluators wanted to be anywhere but in Tempe on Sunday.
My sense is this. The NFL tried to do a good thing and for whatever reason, it was done in typical NFL fashion. Which is to say, it was an absolute debacle.
Sorry, the truth hurts. Should we really be surprised?
Chris Russell -SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980