It took until February, but something finally piqued my interest with regard to the 2023 NFL Draft.
No, it didn’t have anything to do with the Senior Bowl—I barely noticed. It certainly wasn’t a particular prospect or prospects—it’s way too early for me to give a damn about any of them.
No, what caught my eye was a headline from a Huffpost article published on Thursday, titled, “NFL Teams Can No Longer Ask Draft Prospects If Their Mother Is A Sex Worker”
Excuse my French, but WTF!?!?
Yes, apparently, former Cowboys receiver, Dez Bryant, was asked such a question during a pre-draft visit/interview. Former Falcons head coach, Dan Quinn, asked draft prospects such questions during pre-draft visits/interviews.
The NFL has decided to crack down on these inappropriate questions for the sake of a player’s mental health and will take away draft picks and fine teams if there is evidence of such behavior by NFL personnel this year and in the future.
Kudos to the NFL for stamping out such bs, but I can’t believe this was ever a thing, to begin with.
I mean, I started interviewing for jobs in the early-90s, and even back then—when I was a teenager and then a twentysomething—it was illegal for someone to ask me how old I was thanks to laws involving age discrimination.
During my most recent interview for my current job, my now-boss—a real nice guy...if he’s reading this—asked me about my history with traffic violations, and even before I could answer, he made it clear that I did not have to reveal anything if I didn’t want to.
A background check is where stuff like DUIs and arrests are uncovered, and I’m pretty sure the NFL, a league that pays its new hires a minimum of $705,000, investigates the criminal history of every prospect prior to “hiring” them.
I’ve been on many job interviews, and nobody has ever come close to asking me if my mom was a sex worker. And I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s illegal to be asked about your sexual preference during a job interview (yep, that’s another question that has been posed to draft prospects over the years).
I know what you might be inclined to say: “Hey, the NFL needs to know the character of these players before investing so heavily in their services.”
First of all, a player’s mom being a sex worker has nothing to do with that player’s character. Second of all, if you think sexual orientation reveals anything negative about a person’s character, perhaps you need to be reminded of what century we’re currently living in (newsflash: It’s not the old one where people were far more ignorant about such things).
If you want to know a player’s character, well, his history with the law could reveal something. Aside from that, how well does he get along with teammates and coaches?
What were his grades like in school?
How good is he in pressure situations? Can he diagnose various plays? Can he draw up plays on the whiteboard?
Is he dedicated to film study? Is he a gym rat? Does he watch his diet?
All of these things are revealed to coaches, scouts and general managers in the months leading up to the NFL Draft, so why the need to be inappropriate with the questions?
Perhaps it’s because they don’t consider a football player to be a normal occupation. Maybe not, but it’s still an occupation, and these guys have rights.
Personally, I wish someone from the Steelers’ organization would go all Peter Graves in Airplane on one of these prospects so Pittsburgh loses all of its picks, and we can stop talking about the 2023 NFL Draft.
But since that’s likely not going to happen, the NFL needs to remember that players are becoming more empowered every year, and it may not be long before someone has the guts to talk about the elephant in the room.
The NFL’s process for bringing on new hires—the annual player selection extravaganza—could not be more illegal when you really think about it. “Hey, you have no control over which company you work for.”
There may come a day when prospects demand total control over their careers right out of college and will have free will to sign with any team they choose (just like in the real world).
Maybe by that point, these coaches and general managers will wish they had treated these prospects like people, instead of commodities without feelings.