INDIANAPOLIS There’s “Always Compete.”
And then there’s this:
Each team gets 60 formal interviews at the NFL combine with college prospects. These are 15-minute, sit-down talks. The questions--tests, really-- come from a team’s coach, general manager, position coach and anyone else who wants in on grilling a potential future player to determine if he will become one of their next draft picks in April. It’s the most important job interview of these players’ lives so far. Many teams see them as more important than the 40-yard dashes and vertical jumps that get on national television.
I mean, even punters get grilled. And about everything but football.
Texas punter Michael Dickson was asked for the strangest question he’d gotten from a team in the player interviews here this week.
"I mean I had to do a staring contest and I had to see how long I could stare without blinking," Dickson said. "I had a couple of attempts. I tried a few techniques, looking away from the light, trying to block any sort of wind coming into the eyes. That was a weird process."
How long did it take before Dickson blinked in the staring contest?
"The first time I did terrible. I only lasted for 14 seconds," he said. "But my third time I had figured out a technique to look around the room just to get your eyes a little watery, I guess."
Which team asked Dickson to perform the staring contest?
You guessed it.
"It was the Seahawks," he said.
Coach Pete Carroll is notorious for his “Always Compete” mantra, and for finding new, innovative ways to freshen that competition.
Seems he’s found one. But don’t blink. You might fail it.
The Seahawks could be in the market for a new punter in 2018. Jon Ryan just finished his 12th season in the NFL. He has been Seattle’s punter since 2008. The team is tight against the salary cap and could save $2 million against its by releasing the 36-year-old Ryan before the season begins in September, according to overthecap.com. He has this year and next and $5.6 million in base salary remaining on his contract that is heavily back-loaded in cost, and thus ripe for restructuring or cutting to save money.