The NFL’s pre-draft process is a strange dizzying array of hoops that teams set up for prospects to jump through.
Both literal and figurative ones.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara explained one such figurative hoop he was asked to jump through — but one he refused to.
Kamara told Andrew Hawkins for a segment called “Guard Down” for Uninterrupted about how someone with an NFL team warned him that the general manager might not love his physical appearance.
“I had a team before I went into a meeting, one of the guys came up to me and was like, ‘Well, you’re about to go in with the GM so, you know, he doesn’t really understand the nose rings and things like that,’ ” Kamara said. “So you might want to — can you take them out or tuck them?’
“I was like, ‘No.’ ”
Kamara ended up being a third-round pick (67th overall) in 2017. His talent suggested he should have gone higher than that; there was even chatter a few months before the draft that Kamara was in the first-round discussion after a college career at Tennessee that featured a number of explosive plays.
How much the nose ring — or Kamara’s interviews — played into his mini-tumble, we’ll never know the answer to that. But in two seasons he’s established himself as a terrific playmaker for the Saints with 32 touchdowns, 3,146 yards from scrimmage and four two-point conversions.
New Orleans has to be thrilled with how that pick has turned out. And Kamara can hold his head up high, despite the draft drop and the lost salary that comes with it, knowing that he didn’t try to change who he was to impress a potential employer and be someone he wasn’t.
“Basically, if you don’t understand it or you don’t like it, then you don’t need to draft me,” Kamara said. “It wouldn’t be a good choice to draft me.”
Here’s the full video:
Why would an NFL team care about Alvin Kamara’s nose ring?
As our heads spin thinking about which GM it might have been, we have some guesses — one that shall remain nameless in this space. But it does highlight how bizarre and oldfangled the draft interview process can be. You probably could argue that this is the case in many other fields and professions as well, and you’d probably be right.
But the NFL is different. Talent and work ethic far outweigh personal appearance on the list of critical skills required for NFL success.
Would the Carolina Panthers have passed on Cam Newton knowing that he later would be known for his sometimes-foppish outfits? Of course not.
Should teams fear players with highly visible tattoos and other piercings? It’s ridiculous to even consider the matter.
So that’s why teams that place too much value in seeking out clean-cut (whatever that means) players who fit a certain archetype will routinely miss on gifted players such as Kamara.
Credit to the Saints for apparently having no issue with Kamara’s appearance. But mostly credit to Kamara for refusing to look the way some one else wants him to.
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