SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Many young men in the U.S. dream of becoming a professional football player, leading their favorite team to glory in the Super Bowl.
While I certainly no longer fall into the category of "young man," the curiosity of exactly how I would stack up against the current crop of NFL players' measurables of still lingers.
I was given the opportunity to quell that curiosity at the fitness center here as it played host to the second annual Schriever Combine Sept. 11.
"The combine started last year because we had two Airmen from 1st Space Operations Squadron that wanted to see a combine-like competition held on base, they came up with the format for scoring and we ran with it," said Seth Cannello, Schriever Fitness Center director. "This year, I tweaked the event to make scoring easier and eliminated the bench press portion of the competition and added the tire flip."
The Schriever Combine featured the same speed and strength drills as the NFL Combine, with one exception. Instead of counting the number of times participants can bench press 225 pounds, the Schriever event featured a tire flip, a combination speed and strength drill where participants had to flip a tire a distance of 115.2 feet for males and 57.6 feet for females.
"The tire flip not only tested strength, it also challenged competitor's coordination and cardiovascular systems," Cannello said. "The tire flip is a more functional test than a one-repetition maximal bench press."
Before determining whether my performance should warrant consideration from NFL scouts, I had to find the barometer against which to measure my results. I researched the results from the most recent NFL Scouting Combine, according to nflcombineresults.com, and found that my height and weight, 71 inches and 230 pounds, most closely compared to running backs, 70 inches and 210 pounds, and inside linebackers, 73 inches and 238 pounds.
I calculated the average times/distances for both positions in each event to gauge how I fared against the average participant, keeping in mind that most players invited to the NFL Combine are 21-24 years old and have been competing and training at an elite level for at least the previous three years (yes, I'm trying to make myself feel better).
Now it was time to put myself to the test.
Each participant completed the 40-yard dash first. I fully expected to have to play "catch-up" after this event. Even during my "prime," I was an offensive lineman for my high school football team, so speed has never been one of my strong suits. So it was unsurprising when I turned in a 6.57 second time. Running backs at the NFL Combine averaged a 4.60 second time, while inside linebackers turned in a 4.74 second time. Ouch.
The tire flip was the second event, and after watching the first few participants, I thought the "slow and steady" strategy would be advantageous. It seemed like competitors were losing time by trying to go as fast as possible and losing control of the tire. My plan paid off as my 48.9 second time was good for fifth among the eight male competitors. There's no direct comparison for this event to the NFL Combine, but using a complex and highly scientific evaluation, I'll say my 48.9 seconds would equate to five reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. The lowest total for running backs at the NFL Combine was 11, 16 for inside linebackers.
We moved from the indoor track to the fitness center gym for the final events beginning, for me, with the three-cone drill. I thought this was where I could start to close the gap. I thought wrong. Running backs averaged 7.10 seconds in this drill, with inside linebackers just a step behind at 7.12. I clocked in at 9.43 seconds.
Up next was the broad jump. I ended up sabotaging myself in this event with a foul on the first jump. Because of that, I was unable to go all-out on the second attempt in an effort to record a score. My recorded score was 76 inches, a good 40 inches below the average for both comparable positions at the NFL Combine.
The shuttle run presented my last, best opportunity to record a decent time. Unfortunately, my 23-year-old mind forgot to tell my 33-year-old body that no one can outrun father time. The stopwatch, on the other hand, provided all the reminding I needed. At least the identical 5.31 second times in both attempts allowed me to cling to the consistency I've bragged about throughout my athletic career.
The final event was the vertical jump. Much as I run slower than a herd of turtles through mud, I'm fairly certain the film "White Men Can't Jump" was originally the working title of my biopic. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to reach double-digits with a 17 inch vertical.
The Schriever Combine gave me the opportunity to push myself and test my own limits against some of the great athletes at Schriever. Congratulations to the top competitors, Franklin Eason, Ramon Rosario and Greg Sambula on the male side and Jessica Trundy and Heather Nelson for females.
Additionally, the other participants were all encouraging and cheering each other the whole way (as is true at other monthly fitness center events I've attended), even if there was friendly competition to see who could get the best score.
"Why not try a competition on base? You don't have to pay for it, it's great exercise and you get to socialize with other members from the base who probably have similar interests you do," Cannello said. "It's also a great way to see if your fitness efforts are paying off, especially, if you compete from year to year. That way you can see if you are making improvements from one event to the next."
So my dream of playing in the NFL remains just that, a dream. However, since flag football season recently kicked off, any team looking for an old, slow guy who can flip tires pretty well, can call my agent. I could be a steal on the free agent market.
Full results (40-yard dash time is tiebreaker):
Franklin Eason, 4th Space Operations Squadron, 10 points (5.08 second 40-yard dash)
Ramon Rosario, 4 SOPS, 10 points (5.24 second 40-yard dash)
Greg Sambula, 21st Medical Squadron, 24 points
Jared Long, 50th Operations Support Squadron, 25 points
Zachary Ray, 50th Space Communications Squadron, 27 points
Anthony Rapheal, 7th Space Operations Squadron, 36 points
Christopher Babcock, 50 SCS, 39 points
Jessica Trundy, 4 SOPS, 9 points (5.72 second 40-yard dash)
Heather Nelson, United States Air Force Warfare Center, 9 points (6.35 second 40-yard dash)