The NFL announced this week major changes to what is allowed during pre-draft interviews, while also doing away with the infamous Wonderlic test.
According to a memo obtained by the Associated Press, the NFL issued a warning to teams that they could lose a draft pick and face significant fines if club representatives conduct themselves unprofessionally in interviews with draft prospects.
The report comes on the same day that NFL columnist Charles Robinson published his experience in which a personnel executive went down a list of uncomfortable questions that he thought players were rarely prepared for.
“He mentioned asking a prospect if he thought his head coach’s wife was attractive,” Robinson wrote. “He’d asked a player about cheating on his girlfriend with a tutor or how often they watched pornography. And then the executive recounted a specific instance where an assistant coach had sat quietly listening during a group interview, and then suddenly interjected with a question about whether a player had ever committed a specific sexual act with another man. That latter instance was also recounted with a deep belly laugh.”
The memo obtained by the AP stated that a team would forfeit a draft pick between the first and fourth round and be fined a minimum of $150,000 if it’s determined a club representative displayed conduct that is “disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional” during an interview.
“All clubs should ensure that prospective draft picks are afforded a respectful and professional NFL environment — one that is consistent with state and federal law and our shared commitment to respect, diversity and inclusion,” the memo states. “The same is true of free agents whom your club may consider signing. It is also important for your club to reinforce to prospective players the value your club places on character and the standards of conduct expected of everyone associated with the NFL.”
The AP notes that in 2010, then-Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland apologized to Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick Dez Bryant for asking during a pre-draft visit whether his mother was a prostitute. In 2016, then-Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn apologized to Eli Apple because one of his coaches asked the cornerback his sexual preference.
The league also plans to do away with the Wonderlic test for prospective players, while also revising some of its scouting combine drills to better simulate game-related movement.
Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and events said that the NFL realizes that fan interest in the combine has grown over the years, and the league wants to expand media coverage of the event.
“At its core, the combine is and always will be a football evaluation event and medical evaluation event for the clubs, but there is such intense fan interest that we’re spending a lot of time thinking about the evolution of that,” O’Reilly said. “It’s become a significant media event. ... As we head into Indy this year and then beyond, we’ll continue to find ways to make it more accessible to fans given the massive interest in the intersection of college and the NFL at its best.”