The vast majority of NFL-caliber players participate, or are at least invited to participate, in the NFL combine. NFL scouts and general managers and coaches huddle together with their stop watches and make definitive football judgments on mostly non-football movements, thereby defensing their otherwise biased predispositions. The creative imagination – that is, potential – is given an excuse to run wild. It’s the reason why players like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Vernon Gholston get drafted in the first round.
There is, however, some good in it. Maybe a previously unheralded player puts himself on the map; maybe some myth-busting goes on. But in the general sense, the NFL combine is a closed circuit – you have to be invited to get measured to be judged. And that, in its own right, is ironically backwards, that players are, essentially, judged worthy or unworthy of being judged.
In 2011, the NFL somewhat rectified the old-boys-club scouting practices by implementing regional scouting combines. They began in January and will go on until March, hitting 13 major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. Even Hawaii is getting in on the action. Last year, Rams’ kicker Greg Zuerlein made enough of an impression to earn himself a training camp invite, and eventually a roster spot as the team’s starting kicker. 87 other players made NFL rosters. But this year, however, comes a different bit of news: 28-year-old Lauren Silberman of New York City will become the first female to try out for the NFL.
Though she doesn’t have professional kicking experience, she played club soccer at Wisconsin and holds a Master’s from MIT – her thesis was on how athletes use video games to improve performance, and she started her own company, Double Play, which executes that premise. She also had no idea that she was the first female combine participant.
“‘I was not aware that I was the first female registrant,’ Silberman told NFL.com on Tuesday. ‘I was actually hoping that the 2012 historical milestone rule, to allow women to play, would prompt more women to attend tryouts this year. But for me, what’s important is to finally have a chance to fulfill my dreams by trying out to play in the world’s most competitive football league.”
So how does this qualify her to become an NFL kicker, exactly? Well, it doesn’t. And some NFL foot muses – namely, Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts punter – have their doubts.
They showed a video of her kicking.. She’s gonna need a lot of deer antler spray b4 her tryout.. But it’s still cool she’s out there trying
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) February 20, 2013
And we do too, to be honest. If you head on over to NFL.com, you can see video of her kicking – or, really, barely making short field goals. But even if she’s not NFL-ready, good for her anyway.