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Why are agents organizing a boycott of the NFL Scouting Combine?

The NFL Scouting Combine is set for a comeback after the covid-19 pandemic caused it to be cancelled last year, and now its return might see little participation from NFL hopefuls.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 1: The 2019 NFL Combine logo is seen at the 2019 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 1, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael HickeyGetty Images

The NFL Scouting Combine was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and now covid-19 restrictions might result in prospective players not fully participating in the Indiana event this year.

Agents who represent more than 150 college football players are reportedly organizing a boycott of most parts of the combine if the league does not ease the “bubble” restrictions it has laid out for the athletes.

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NFL outlines Combine guidelines

A memo released by the NFL states that players’ movements will be limited for the duration of the Combine, and those who do not comply with the rules will be sent packing.

“Players will be restricted to secure Combine venues during their entire time in Indianapolis for their protection. Players who violate this policy at any time will be disqualified from further participation and sent home,” according to the memo.

The athletes will also be allowed only one fully vaccinated “medical support person to assist them during the event”.

The agents are arranging a boycott of Combine activities such as testing, workouts, and interviews, if the NFL does not modify these limitations. The representatives are pushing for players to be allowed full access to their training team.

NFLPA: Players have a right to fair treatment

The NFL Players Association has voiced its support for players who would choose not to participate in the Combine if they believe it is not in their best interests.

“We have spoken to several agents to reinforce our long standing opposition to the NFL Scouting combine and agree and support the decisions by those to not attend,” according to a letter the union sent to agents.

“The combination of the NFL’s proposed “bubble” and fact that we still have an antiquated system of every team doctor examining players and having them perform yet again needs serious modification or elimination. While we do not represent these players we have advocated for their rights to fair treatment.”

An 'invite-only' event

The NFL has invited 324 prospective players to the event, and if the boycott pushes through, a minimum of 155 or nearly half of these athletes would not participate in parts of the Combine.

The NFL Scouting Combine, held every year in Indianapolis, Indiana, is scheduled to take place from March 1 to 7.

How an athlete does at the Combine can play a role in his draft status, salary, and professional football career. The event was envisioned to be a way of centralizing the evaluation process of college players for NFL teams, and is viewed as the unofficial kickoff to free agency.