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NFL Combine Q & A with Amy Trask

The NFL Scouting Combine has become yet another major marketing experience on the National Football League calendar and Amy Trask saw its early growth firsthand as CEO of the then-Oakland Raiders under legendary team owner, Al Davis. Today she is an accomplished author and media ace, and also Chairman of the Board for Big3 basketball.

This week, however, it’s about the NFL Combine. From publicity to event value, my Q&A with Amy appears below (next go-round with her there will be sound because there should be when we compare notes). It wasn’t edited much, certainly not for clarity, because Amy provides that on her own. I hope you enjoy it.

Gail — Do you think players’ publicists and agents play a role in how athletes are talked about before, during and after the NFL Combine, or is it all about performance, measurements and attitude?

Amy — “There certainly can be ‘eyes on’ moments that elicit glowing comments, but publicists and agents can prompt those comments as well – and of course, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

“Also … As you know, I am not a ‘hot take’ artist, but I do have strong views, and I am not hesitant to share them with oomph when I do.  I note that, because during a discussion about the NFL draft during my first season on That Other Pregame Show on CBS Sports Network (which was also my very first season on television) I was emphatic as to my disdain for – my disgust with – those who share views anonymously.

“These are young men who are embarking upon their careers. If someone has something to say, put a name on it.  For a ‘grown-up’ to tarnish the reputation of a young person, to adversely impact a young person’s future, and to do so anonymously, is wrong and wretched.  Do you have something to say?  Put your name on it.  (And now, I’m all het up again.)”

Gail — Was the story you told on Twitter about vegetable size (see below) the battiest one you heard from someone in the Raiders organization?

Amy — “I heard a lot of doozies over the decades, but that one stands out in large part because the individual who asked that question was really and truly delighted with the question he asked. His delight was evident when he enthusiastically and proudly relayed that story to me.”

Gail — Do you think that in the world of Zoom and more on-campus pro days that the Combine is still relevant?

Amy — “Objection your honor … this assumes a fact not in evidence (that it was ever relevant) and vague and ambiguous (If you wish to imagine how I look right now, Google ‘Elle Woods law school GIF.’)

“Do I believe that there need be a Combine?   No.  Do I believe the Combine is of great value to the League?  Yes.   So is it relevant in all regards?  No.  Is it relevant in some regard?  Yes.   (My answer to this question may have shed a bit of light on why Al [Davis] observed me: ‘you know how she is with words.’)”

Gail — Can a player actually make or break their draft position at the Combine?

Amy — “Make or break?  No.  Improve or impair? Yes, but only on the margins and not often.

“Teams have game ‘film’ (I know it’s no longer film, it’s video, but it was film when I started my career) and teams send scouts to games, and I believe that all to be – and I think it should be – far more important than that which is gleaned at the Combine.”


Amy is bright, insightful, funny, and deserves enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I digress. Read her book, You Negotiate Like a Girl; Reflections on a Career in the National Football League (written with Mike Freeman), her tweets and catch her on all modes of media throughout the year. Bonus — she’s a walking-talking lesson for humanity on how to exist on social media peacefully, civilly and productively.

Happy NFL Combine weekend, and thanks always for your treasured time.


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