Every year, when I travel to all-star games, I get to talk to the people that make up the business. Scouts, agents, financial planners, trainers, players and their parents — they all have different perspectives on the game. That’s part of what makes football so fascinating.
Here are a few things I found of interest this week:
- I had a long talk with a scout who’s been in the game for more than 30 years. In the course of our talks on the business of player evaluation, he talked about how busy he is from August to November, and how, even when he’s home on the weekends, he’s mainly finishing up reports. He told me the secret to driving four hours after a full day of work (without falling asleep) is to adjust your seat so the backrest is at a right angle to the seat. It’s not so comfortable, but it keeps you alert. Makes sense to me.
- He also said his ‘laundromat’ during a two-week trip is usually the hotel sink. So let’s see: 12-hour days followed by four-hour drives; washing your undies in the sink; and staying so sleepy that you have to drive bolt upright in your seat. Still want to be a scout?
- One school that takes agent registration, prospect education, and the selection process very seriously threatened to bar one of its players from its pro day when he signed with a contract advisor who’s not registered with the school. I’m not sure if I’m in favor of that, but I do know that if all schools had that policy, and followed through with it, the recruiting process would be a lot more orderly.
- I’ve always been a guy who believes teams should cover every all-star game of every stripe, no matter how low on the food chain. They should also make sure they’re keeping tabs on all the other leagues, like the CFL, Arena League, etc. However, I had an interesting conversation with a scout this week who disagreed. He looks at a scouting department as a tablecloth that’s a little too small. You have to make sure the biggest part of the tablecloth is covering the key parts of the ‘table’ (mainly the FBS teams and the better FCS teams), and accept that there may be a few crumbs left here and there. You have to play the odds, basically. Even when you’re an NFL team with 10-12 area scouts. There’s just too many players.
- We had one more (friendly) disagreement. He likes the idea of the Pacific Pro Football League, and thinks it will attract a number of talented players that have no interest in attending school and who are willing to spend their three post-high school, pre-NFL eligibility years making $50,000 per year. My feeling is that most players worth considering for such a league will still see colleges as their best path to NFL riches, even if it means they’re essentially indentured servants for three years.
Those are the highlights from Week 1. More next week.