With the start of spring rapidly approaching, the thoughts of many young people will turn, not lightly to love, but rather to the prospects of getting a job after graduation.
Hundreds of young men are already in career advancement mode as they await the National Football League’s draft late next month.
Many of them are just back from Indianapolis, where they participated in the league’s combine. The prospective draftees took turns running, jumping, throwing, catching and lifting in what has jokingly been called the underwear Olympics.
However, in hotel rooms well off the playing field where the athletes were poked, prodded and measured before an audience of team scouts and executives, another kind of test took place.
And in this test, the evaluators failed.
While the running and jumping and lifting are designed to test an athlete’s physical prowess, those executives and scouts interview the players to measure their mental make-up.
And it’s for good reason.
Players taken in the first round will become instant millionaires. A team on the verge of bestowing that kind of largesse upon a young man would be foolish not to probe a potential employee for weaknesses in character.
Along with all the other combine invitees, Derrius Guice, a running back from LSU, sat down with clubs to discuss his potential future with them.
It’s what Guice was asked by at least two of those clubs that has drawn scrutiny upon the process.
Guice told Sirius/XM that in one of the interviews, he was asked if he liked men, the question not being posed ironically or humorously, but rather in the manner of one person trying to get another to disclose his sexual orientation.
In another interview, Guice said, a team insinuated a rumor that Guice’s mother was a prostitute, then asked how he felt about it.
The questions were posed, undoubtedly, to get a rise out of Guice, to see if he would react to provocation and if so, how. To his lasting credit, Guice did not punch either of the questioners, though he must have felt justification.
This isn’t the first time that NFL team officials have been caught asking salacious questions at these combine interviews.
Two years ago, an Atlanta Falcons assistant coach asked then Ohio State defensive back Eli Apple a question about his sexuality during an interview.
Apple spilled the beans, but the Falcons weren’t punished for violating league policy about asking such a question. Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn issued an apology and a pledge to give the assistant a stern talking to.
Guice did not name the offending coaches, likely out of fear of earning the enmity of teams for rocking the boat, which, of course, is shameful.
There’s a clear difference between doing due diligence by asking thought-provoking questions of potential employees and embracing homophobia and misogyny.
Indeed, what happened in Indianapolis not only is against the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players, but is a violation of federal law.
Once Derrius Guice has been drafted, NFL Commissioner Smilin’ Roger Goodell should ask him who asked the questions, then ask the offenders the following:
How’s it feel to be out of work?
And that’s how I see it for this week.