Tuesdays with Gorney: The media flopped at the NFL Combine

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There are so many interesting stories about Caleb Williams and the media had every chance in the world to engage with the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

The chance for the former Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga five-star quarterback to return home to play for the Washington Commanders – but only if he goes second and presumably the top spot goes to another QB such as North Carolina’s Drake Maye.


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He could have been asked about transferring from Oklahoma to USC, his Heisman run, playing for Lincoln Riley and whether he would make a great NFL head coach, possibly reuniting with former USC assistant Kliff Kingsbury with the Commanders.

Instead, right after Williams popped up at the podium and said good morning to everyone over the weekend, someone asked if Williams, who battled and clawed to the top of college football success, was “afraid to compete.”

“How do you respond to people saying that you're worried to be compared side-by-side to your peers in medicals, measurements and workouts?” this person asked. “Are you afraid to be measured against those guys one-on-one? Is that why you're not doing things?”


In an attempt to go viral, there’s a virus unleashed on big media events now. Whether it was the Super Bowl or at the combine where interesting – or even intelligent – questions are thrown aside for trying to get views on Instagram or Tiktok.

That’s why Washington receiver Rome Odunze, a four-star receiver from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, was asked if he could land a plane in an emergency or whether birds are real.

Texas Tech defensive back Tyler Owens went on a cringe-worthy rant after being asked about his thoughts on space not being real, “valid points” about flat-earth conspiracy theories and something about living under a dome. I started zoning out around that time. The science department in Lubbock should have done better. Side note: Owens had the highest athleticism score of any safety at the event as he broad jumped 12 feet, 2 inches on that flat Earth.

Plenty of interesting questions are asked by legitimate media members but one bad apple ruins the bunch of reporters. I remember covering Florida more than a decade ago and someone asked Tim Tebow whether he was afraid of LSU’s defense. He answers yes, Tebow is afraid. He answers no, the headline is Tebow isn’t scared of the Tigers. Everyone loses either way.

This idea that asking asinine or sometimes downright idiotic questions to these guys – people with really interesting life stories, struggles, achievements – is such a waste of time for everyone involved, especially them.

It’s not only the media doing it.

Former Utah safety Cole Bishop said he was asked by the Philadelphia Eagles during a meeting in Indianapolis to shoot a basketball and he went 0-for-3. Ryan Watts, a Texas cornerback, said a team asked if he had an OnlyFans page. Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott was asked to name as many tight ends as possible. He apparently got to 18 but felt he could do more.

In other years, the questions were more sinister - and downright sick - until the NFL put the kibosh on it and in 2022 sent a memo to teams that “disrespectful, inappropriate or unprofessional” conduct during interviews would be met with penalties.

It only took a team asking Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute, whether Eli Apple was interested in men and Derrius Guice claiming that a team asked him both rude and obnoxious questions for the NFL to act.

In covering recruiting for a living and cycling through an entire crop of new players every year, there are so many captivating stories out there. Just takes some work to find them. The same can be said for everyone at the NFL Combine.

Former four-star Marvin Harrison Jr., who clearly should have been a five-star, didn’t work out at the combine and surprisingly didn’t show up to his media session on Friday.

After hearing some of the questions asked of other players, can you blame him?