Commentary

Myth busters for the combine

Changing perceptions on Mike Mamula, Jerry Rice and much more

Updated: February 25, 2010, 12:47 PM ET
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
Getty ImagesMike Mamula, No. 59 for the Philadelphia Eagles. Let the man rest.

Each year, the arrival of the NFL scouting combine brings a tired plethora of narratives and stories about players both past and present. That's to be expected; without much to say before the players actually lift and run -- and with teams tight-lipped about which players they're interested in -- there's only a few obvious paths to cross.

But repeating a lie frequently enough turns it into a truth, and that's where Football Outsiders comes in. Enough bashing of men in underwear! Too long have we denigrated scout-speak like "bubble butt" and "plays the piano." It's time to set the record straight on several myths of the combine.

Mike Mamula is the example of combine hysteria gone bad

When scribes discuss "workout warriors" -- players who rose up the draft charts thanks to an impressive performance at the combine -- Mamula's name inevitably comes up. Page 2's David Schoenfield even declared Mamula, the seventh pick of the 1995 NFL draft, to be the 45th-worst draft pick of all time, in 2006.

Mamula's status as the combine's pre-eminent failure requires two things to be true: (1) He was drafted far higher than his level of play in college would suggest because of his performance at the combine, and (2) he underperformed as an NFL player. Both are false.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.