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Scouting Combine ban encompasses convictions only

Mike Florio explains why the NFL will never get rid of its three-year waiting period to enter the league, in the wake of the NBA proposing to drop its age limit.

With three played initially banned from the 2019 Scouting Combine but now only banned on a limited basis for past misconduct, some have asked why former Wyoming defensive end Carl Granderson is still permitted to attend.

It’s a fair question. In November, Granderson allegedly made unwanted sexual contact with a pair of female Wyoming students while they were sleeping. He currently faces charges of felony third-degree sexual assault and misdemeanor sexual battery.

But Granderson can fully participate in the Combine because he has yet to be convicted of any crime. Per a source with knowledge of the memo circulated by the league office to all teams earlier this year, the restriction on Combine participation applies only when there has been a conviction.

“An invited prospect will not be permitted to participate in any aspect of the Combine if a background check reveals a conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving violence or use of a weapon, domestic violence, sexual offense and/or sexual assault,” the memo explains.

This creates an obvious disconnect between league procedures for current players and prospective players. Current players can be investigated and disciplined even if never convicted. Prospective players face a partial Combine ban only if there has been a conviction.

The rule also creates an obvious gap that makes the entire rule even more nonsensical. If a player actually committed a crime involving “violence or use of a weapon, domestic violence, sexual offense and/or sexual assault” but it happened recently enough to have not permitted the wheels of justice to produce an actual conviction, he can fully participate. If it happened far enough in the past to be fully resolved -- and resolved with a conviction -- the player can’t fully participate.

This incongruity, coupled with the fact that players will still be evaluated and potentially drafted by the league’s 32 teams even if not permitted to attend the Combine, becomes further support for the fact that the rule needs to go. The fact that the league has softened the rule to permit the players to take Combine physicals and to sit for interviews on a limited basis represents an implicit admission that the rule makes no sense.

Hopefully by next year the league will make an express admission that the rule makes no sense, and make the rule go away.