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Hunter Henry Reflects on His Combine "Circus"
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“I mean, it’s a big deal. It’s something you’ve thought about your whole life but when you see it, the magnitude of it, and all the past players who have gone there, it’s just a cool experience to finally have it be my turn.”
Hunter Henry’s turn was one year ago. But in less than a week, 330 players will take their turn at Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.
From physical tests to mental quizzes and interviews, Henry described the Combine as a crazy and chaotic four-day spectacle.
“It’s a circus!” he said. “It’s crazy (and) really stressful as a player. There are a lot of activities that you have to do and you’re pulled from all different kinds of directions. But it is an experience you’ll never forget and you can only do it once, so it’s something that you’ll always remember forever.”
Part of the allure of the Combine comes from on-field workouts shown live on NFL Network. Yet, much like how SAT scores don’t define a college applicant’s body of work, Henry believes the workouts aren’t full representations of an athlete’s repertoire.
“Looking back at all the measureables and all that stuff, it’s crazy how much goes into those. Really, that doesn’t define you as a football player. But, it is tough after the season, because that’s all you have to work on. I feel it takes away a little bit from players training specifically for football. It’s completely different; almost like you’re training to be a track athlete.”
Two of the things Henry remembers most about the week were the mental stress and how nothing went unnoticed. Yet at the end of the day, the tight end turned the stress into a positive as he wouldn’t have been there if not for his love of football.
“I feel like there’s a lot of stress on you as you’re trying to impress 32 teams. For me, I had about 25 or 26 formal interviews so it was a lot. With that and taking tests and going to the doctors, you’re doing all different kinds of things. Everybody is constantly watching you. For four to five days, every single person there is compiling some sort of scouting report on you and trying to find out who they want. It can be very stressful, but at the same time, you kind of have to look at it as a positive. You could be interviewing for a 9-to-5 job but you’re interviewing to play football, so it’s pretty special.”
Henry said the craziest question he was asked during the week was about his demeanor.
“A lot of people wanted to know about my niceness. I mean, I am a nice guy! But they looked at that as maybe (being too nice) could be a negative. I had some coaches kind of question (scenarios) like if someone got in my face in a game or got in my face in the locker room and asked, ‘What would you do? How would you handle that?’ For me, I (said) I wasn’t going to back down.”
Being that Henry ended up tied for most touchdowns by a tight end in the NFL last season with eight, it’s safe to say he stayed true to his word.
A year removed now means Henry can impart advice to those about to go through the same experience. While he doesn’t shy away from the challenges, he admits remembering the magnitude of the event and how special of an opportunity it that makes it an unforgettable experience.
“It is going to be stressful and everybody talks about how hard it is. I would just say to be yourself, show what you know, and make sure you’re crisp on all your football (knowledge) and everything you’ve learned. (At the Combine,) you’ve been out of football for two months (and) almost three months for some guys, so be crisp. This is the biggest job interview of your life. Don’t be sensitive with anything, take everything with a grain of salt. Not many guys get to go to the Combine. You feel like a lot of guys get to go but there are plenty of guys out there who wish they get to go. So just take it, run with it and have fun.”