This morning, Inside the League conducted interview skills prep with two players headed to the combine next week, Texas A&M OH Trey Williams and Stephen F. Austin OH Gus Johnson. Here are a few random thoughts.
- Everyone who says today’s athlete is different, and that the joy of the game is gone once you get to the NFL (or near the NFL), is wrong. I wish we had filmed Gus and Trey going back and forth about whose high school was better. Trey went to DeKaney HS in Spring, Texas, (a Class 6A school just outside Houston) and Gus went to Gilmer (a Class 2A school in East Texas). DeKaney won the state title in 2011, when Trey was still there (here’s a picture), while Gilmer is defending state champ. Trey’s position was that he had the upper hand because (a) he was there won his school won its only state title and (b) because it’s bigger and has more talented athletes, while Gus contended his argument was stronger because (a) Gilmer has been a consistently dominant school at several levels of Texas state football, (b) DeKaney had more athletes only because it’s much bigger, and (c) his school is the defending state champ. The best part was that neither got excited, raised his voice, or banged the table; both remained cool, calculated and dry-witted (at one point Trey even threw in a Kanye-style ‘I’m gonna let you finish’). It was like watching ‘Meet the Press,’ but funny. It was good-natured jabbing. That’s what sports is all about.
- On the way over, I called one of my friends in scouting and asked, ‘what’s the one question you always ask that a player better get right?’ He didn’t hesitate: ‘Is there anything else we need to know about?’ was his response. He said that most teams already know the answers to questions they ask, and they just want to see how the player responds. However, if it turns out there was an issue a player tried to slide past them, off their draft board he goes.
- I assisted an agent in placing one of his clients with an ex-scout for interview skills work this morning. In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that the industry leader in interview prep, a former NFL GM who has essentially ‘created’ the market, is overbooked and unavailable. He added that his prices were prohibitive anyway. That cracked me up. You know what players need to know before they go into the interview room? Be honest! Be forthright! Be contrite! Be you! That’s all there is to it. If you try to fool teams, they’re going to find out at some point anyway. You’re not going to trick people for long, if at all. Just own what you did (if you did anything) and be a man about it, and you’re set. And it doesn’t cost a cent to do that.