As you may know, one key part of the NFL combine is the night when the players are herded into a big room at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and all NFL teams get a crack at interviewing them for up to 15 minutes. Of course, that’s a pretty tight window, so teams have to get their questions in quickly and draw their conclusions almost as quickly. Usually teams hold interviews knowing that a kid can play, but they want to make sure there aren’t any off-the-field red flags they need to know about, so they focus on the usual questions about arrests, alcohol- and drug-related issues and the like.
Seattle has acquired a reputation for being very thorough not just in its scouting but in evaluating players that will go outside the top 100 players, and obviously, it’s paid great dividends. With that in mind, the Seahawks took an all-hands-on-deck approach to interviewing players, with head coach Pete Carroll himself getting out and speaking to selected players. One of them was Rob Blanchflower, a tight end from Massachusetts who despite a great career at UMass had missed the Senior Bowl with a leg injury. This created a bit more mystery surrounding the pass-catcher as teams weren’t able to do the normal level of due diligence. Within that context, Carroll stopped by for a quick chat.
“Rob, nice to meet you and talk to you,” Carroll said. “You seem like a really good guy. Tell me a little about yourself. Have you ever been in trouble? Done any drugs?”
“I drink a little,” Blanchflower replied.
Eager to make sure “a little” didn’t mean two cases and a bottle of scotch per day, Carroll followed up with another question. “What’s that mean?,” he asked.
“I drink when we celebrate,” the tight end said.
Starting to get a bit concerned, and probably thinking he might have tripped up on an area of concern, Carroll asked for clarification.
“What does that mean?” he asked again.
At that point, the Minuteman sensed a brewing storm he needed to head off, and he knew exactly how to do it.
“Coach, we were 1-11 last season,” Blanch said.
Carroll had no more concerns.