The NFL’s executive vice president of football operations precipitated anger at league meetings this week by allegedly likening the NFL scouting combine, where college players perform so teams can judge whether they fit their needs, to a “slave auction.”
Troy Vincent, who played in the NFL for 15 seasons and made the Pro Bowl five times, reportedly made the incendiary remark while announcing that the combine would feature a less stringent medical evaluation process and a close examination of what questions teams ask the players.
According to CBS Sports, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank “took umbrage” with the comments, not liking the claim that he was collaborating or aiding in an event some might consider racist.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reportedly took over from Blank and spoke of the benefits of playing in the NFL.
During the meetings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also chimed in.
“The biggest thing that the players have raised over time is, ‘I come in, I’m fired up for this, and I have to go and get an additional medical test. And I’m sitting in a hospital waiting for four or five hours on an MRI machine. I have to have multiple meetings about the same type of injury,’” he said.
“For us, it’s really about trying to improve that experience,” Goodell continued. “And they talk about lack of sleep because they get in at one o’clock in the morning and then have to be back at five, and then they have to perform on the field. And it’s an important element for them because they want to perform at the highest level. I think all of that goes into why we want to make that experience better for the players coming, making sure that they have the best ability to perform. And make sure that the clubs obviously get that information, but they have to get that in an appropriate and professional way.”
Earlier in the meeting, Vincent reportedly said the league should reevaluate the combine because it was the first time many players would interact with the NFL.
“We just feel like the overall experience, talking to the players, we can be better in that particular aspect,” he said. “So there was, I would say, a good discussion around what that looks like, where we could be, keeping in mind that the combine is the player’s first experience with the National Football League, and in that experience, there has to be dignity.”
“It’s a great opportunity for the young men, but there has to be some form of dignity and level of dignity and respect as they go through that process,” he continued. “That was the overall theme around our combine [discussion.]”