I better f***in’ get this pen real quick, I thought.
The security guard tracks down one of the worst pens ever invented in pen manufacturing for me, and I retrace my steps to find a hallway in the Indiana Convention Center that I’d eventually liken to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Crap, I’ve somehow managed to walk beyond Rapoport, who has stopped to talk to some people. I decide the best course of action is to sit down at a nearby table and chairs, turn my phone to “flip” version on the camera, and try to snap his picture as he walks by.
The picture is outrageously terrible — it could’ve been Ian Rapoport, or Christian Bale from American Psycho.
It occurred to me that I have the smartphone IQ of an 8-year-old orangutan. Perhaps the straightforward approach is best for someone like me, from the Midwest. I’m a fish out of water at the Combine, might as well sing like the Big Mouth Billy Bass.
“Hey Ian, ready for a busy weekend?” I thought I was so freaking clever, even though I’ve replayed this encounter 27,386 times already.
With an exasperated look on his brow and a smirk of irony, he looks up from his phone, “I just can’t wait for free agency to be over, man.”
I just talked to Ian Rapoport. It can’t get any better, right?
My proverbial hymen shattered, I walk back down the hallway with a Foghorn Leghorn puff of the chest. Keenan McCardell, former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver and current WR coach? Hello. Head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals Zac Taylor? Hello. Former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan? Hello.
I peer down a hallway, and it’s basically a wedding reception minus the loud music and booze. People are dressed up, shooting the breeze, sharing a laugh, and likely, conspiring. Everybody is talking to everybody.
Forgetting a pen might be the best mistake of my life because it showed me the action, and it most certainly wasn’t in the media room.
Eager to share the news with fellow PFN correspondent Chris Spooner, I suddenly remember that draft prospects are about to get interviewed. I shove my notes in my backpack, load up the laptop, and head for the interview room.
I pass about five bomb-sniffing/specially-trained dogs that roam around that part of the facility with their handler during the course of the entire Combine.
This is the moment I know that it’s real. Here’s a conversation that happens as I’m passing my backpack through the security check:
Security: SIR! You cannot come in here.
Guy: But ma’am, I’m with the University of Michigan!
Security: I DON’T CARE! GO GET YOUR BADGE!
(next person in line steps up)
Security: Hi sweetie, how are ya?
The, for lack of a better expression, bipolarity of the exchange between person #1 and person #2 was striking. The tone/mood alternated between being force-marched to the guillotine and a breezy Sunday afternoon. And here I am, a pipsqueak from the armpit of Appalachia, walking into the interview room at the Combine while some dude from the University of Michigan has to go explain himself.
OK, so maybe it felt weird to have the shoe on the other foot
I’m not going to apologize. In I go, and walk into the media herd surrounding Dwayne Haskins at podium #1 and snap a video.
I drift over to Drew Lock’s podium and snap a video.
It’s Christmas morning, and I don’t know what toy to play with. I walk to the far wall of the interview room to podium #7 and catch part of the interview with 6’7″, 250 pound Tyree Jackson from the University of Buffalo. There are two nondescript media types talking to him.
I step up, and with my heart racing like I’ve been ripping crystal meth all night in the realization that I have ample time and space to ask a question, I swan dive into it.
“Tyree, you made some of the more WOW throws in college football last year. What do you hope the coaches see in the tape that maybe doesn’t show up in the highlight reel?”
This crazy thing happened. He answered my question. He wanted to show consistency on his short routes and going through his progressions. It’s possible I swayed side-to-side 17,000 times in his 30-second response, but he responded!
I did it. I asked a question. Time to go back to Ohio, victory to the little guys! Goodbye Combine!
No, no, no. That was just the first wave.
The next group to come in will be here in 5 minutes.
This guy Kyler Murray will be coming to the podium.
Come back tomorrow for the next part of Sutton’s behind the scenes look at the NFL Scouting Combine.