The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Questions complicate larger issues

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It isn't just that the question Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant was out of line -- it's that the question was made public, and that public reaction has been so understandably one-sided. NFL teams really do have full control of the interview process. Most agents come to Indianapolis for the scouting combine, but they can't enter Lucas Oil Stadium to watch the drills, or the interviews from teams and the media. I can now see agents pushing for more oversight into the interview process, possibly aided by the NFLPA, and they're justified in doing so. In how many professions would a first-time interviewee get dumped into a situation where he's basically at the mercy of his interrogator; subject to any ridiculous question based on the whims of the people in charge?

While I understand the teams' point of view -- it's important to fully vet anyone when you're about to invest a guaranteed $20 million or more in their (and your) future -- there are ways to handle things. When Jeff Ireland asks Dez Bryant if his mother is (or was) a prostitute, and thinks so little of the obvious breach of protocol that he only "apologizes" for the act after it's outed, something has to change. Will it get to the point that prospect interviews will look like depositions, with warring attorneys throwing objections at each other while a faceless arbiter decides what's in and out of line? Sounds ridiculous, but it's true of the NFL just as it is of any other entity -- freedom that is abused and misused will eventually be lost. Teams will, in one way or another, have to deal with sharper eyes on their interviewing practices, and it's clearly past time for that to happen.

By Doug Farrar  |  April 30, 2010; 10:01 AM ET  | Category:  Doug Farrar , Draft , Miami Dolphins , NFL , NFL Rules , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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"In how many professions would a first-time interviewee get dumped into a situation where he's basically at the mercy of his interrogator; subject to any ridiculous question based on the whims of the people in charge?"

Well, in every profession. I'm not disagreeing that this question was inappropriate, since it was obviously offensive and had no relevance to the player's qualifications. But I'd argue that potential professional athletes have a lot more leverage than most first-time job applicants, not less. Beyond specific violations of laws against race and sex discrimination, which most interviewers have been trained to avoid (though they don't always succeed), job interviewers are pretty free to be arbitrary jerks if they choose to be, especially in this market.

Posted by: MCFinArl | May 3, 2010 7:50 AM

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