For today’s War Story Wednesday, I’m going to give the floor to Ken for a true ‘inside the war room’ account.
“There are a plethora of stories (first-hand) that I could share with many that have an interest in this kind of thing but many names will need to be left out to keep careers protected.
“When I was in draft meetings (my third season) with the Jacksonville Jaguars, there was a very heated discussion on a particular player. Now, it’s not unusual that these high-level meetings bring out some strong opinions on where a player should be stacked in regards to his specific position as well as where he fits in the big picture. Usually there are several reports (area scout, regional scout, college director, general manager, cross-checking scout, position coach, coordinator, head coach as well as all-star reports) discussed on each player when considering the overall draft process. Not all players have all of these specific reports, but the higher-profile players have this many and more.
“We all know about opinions; they’re like backsides. Everyone has one and they’re all just a bit different. After several hours of information and opinions shared (on this one particular player), the last report was presented to the group in the room. That was the all-star report, which is based on just three days in pads and obviously has a limited amount of exposure to the athlete. Now this was my player, in my area, where I had seen him for more than two years with several visits to the university. There, I had gathered a ton of information on work ethic, injury history, ability to grasp football concepts and leadership, as well as several practices viewed and a multitude of games tapes evaluated. Usually, though not always, the specific area scout (especially an experienced one) should have the best feel for where a player fits in regards to that particular team.
“Most of the opinions (grades) were fairly close (within a couple of rounds) but the “all-star” evaluation by this one scout was a bit out in left field with this player based on two days of practice (and all-star game tape) with a scheme he didn’t know, a new coaching system and teammates he had never competed with in the past. It’s never a problem having a different view of a player, but this particular scout tried to push and push a second- or third-round draft choice to the seventh round, or even free agent, category. As it were, he and I got into it in a chest-to-chest confrontation, almost like an umpire and baseball manager arguing a call at home plate. We were able to know what kind of salad dressing each of us had for lunch, and others had to separate us. Yes, two grown men almost coming to blows over a grade on a college player.
“This isn’t the norm, but believe me, the amount of time, effort, work and money that goes into evaluating these collegiate athletes can flare tempers especially after 20 consecutive days of 12-hour meetings.
“I’ll let you know what actually happened to that specific player in the next war story.”