Once again, and still, the NFL Combine embarrasses its business by assuming that anything goes in the pursuit of challenging potential employees. And once again, and still, the league shows not how little it knows about changing its behaviors, but how little it cares.
LSU running back Derrius Guice was asked by a club representative during his combine interview if he likes men. This is by one reckoning the third time in five years that the question has been asked to a potential draftee, and every time the outrage has been palpable, as it was when Dez Bryant was famously asked at the 2010 combine if his mother was a prostitute.
But it continues unabated because teams believe they have unfettered rights that other employers do not, because their search for whatever knowledge they deem interesting, appropriate or just fun to know supersedes all other considerations, and because the NFL believes itself to be more important than all other walks of life.
It isn’t. In fact, one of its side effects is hastening brain trauma, which makes it no better (except for the paycheck) than coal mining, to name an industry where questions of a prospective hire are not permitted.
And while we expect to find out which team and which interviewer decided to question Guice on his sexuality as though it affects his ability to do his job, we need have no faith that the league will force its teams to change their behavior. It happens too often and with too little consequence, because the structure of most teams is that anything is permissible as long as a supervisor asks for it or says that it is, the rules or laws be damned.
It is one more reason why the Combine, as glittery as it can be for people who find 40 times and bench presses prurient, reveals more about what is wrong with the business than what is right, and why it is really little more than a much-glorified marketing tool that often works against the best interests of the business.
And as far as that goes, that it will remain so as long as the football people cannot be forced to operate within the most basic strictures of decency, or to see the value of doing so. Indeed, as long as they think that their potential employees don’t deserve to be treated so contemptibly, none of the league’s other initiatives about player behavior or safety can be taken as anything other than the P.R.-motivated bumblings they actually are.