A Look Inside The Combine

February 26th, 2010

Veteran player agent Ralph Cindrich

Joe recently chatted about the NFL combine and players’ draft strategy with former NFL linebacker and current agent Ralph Cindrich. A graduate of Pitt, Cindrich was drafted by Atlanta in the fifth round in 1972. He played five years in the NFL, also logging time for Denver, Houston and New England.

Notable former Bucs that Cindrich represented were Paul Gruber, Vinny Testaverde and Brian Griese. Cindrich also was a key behind-the-scenes figure in facilitating the infamous Herschel Walker trade between Dallas and Minnesota.

Cindrich has represented 27 Pro Bowlers over the years, but has only a handful of NFL clients today. Instead, he is a consultant for DeBartolo Sports, having sold his sports agency to that firm some five years ago.

Among other topics, Cindrich explains how Twitter, Facebook and other social media Web sites play a role in evaluating players, and Cindrich gets into the interview process, plus explains what agent-player tactic takes a hefty set of balls.


JoeBucsFan.com: Ralph, how much different is the combine and draft process now from when you were a senior at Pitt?

Ralph Cindrich: Well, there wasn’t a combine back then. There were only Pro Days. So NFL people traveled all over the country to various colleges. I was not as prepared for the track meet [that Pro Days can be].

Now, the combine and Pro Days are really about speed and agility, not football skills. Players were not as prepared nearly as well then as they are now.

Joe: How do you select a client or how does the NFL weed out the good guys from the bad? How do you counsel players to act?

Cindrich: We know who the slimeballs are. Agents can tell how players party. Sure, not all are choirboys. But all are tremendous football players. To be successful from an agent perspective, you have to have good guys.

Joe: In the past, you have represented clients where the player essentially told certain teams, “Don’t draft me. I won’t play for you. I won’t sign with you.” Is that an advisable tactic with a player? Won’t that hurt a player in the draft?

Cindrich: It’s never popular. It’s certainly not popular with the NFL. It’s a calculated risk. You only want to do that with specific people and specific athletes at specific positions in certain situations. I did that with Bill Fralic and the Vikings.

You need to know the business and the people you are dealing with. If you are going to try to make that play, you better be able to pull it off. It takes big balls. …Players are different now. There’s a lot more money involved and the team they end up with isn’t as much of a concern or goal. I used to have some of the best guys — both physically and mentally, smart guys. They knew we could win and we always did.

For this move to be successful, you have to know that there’s a team out there who has a hard on for that player, that they will give up the motherload to get that player.

Joe: How do you advise players to prepare for the combine?

Cindrich: My general advice is that it’s a professional interview. You have to look professional both on and off the field. You have to be a professional both at your workout and away from the workout. Also, treat everyone you meet with respect.

It’s a job interview so demonstrate your love for the game. This is what you are all about. This is your dream come true. You have to have a conviction and sincerity. Conduct yourself with a sharp eye and don’t lie.

Joe: Unlike just a few short years ago, players using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are now as common as football players wearing a jock strap. How do you counsel players to use social media sites or do you advise them to stay off these sites all together?

Cindrich: Very good question. They do not have to avoid social media sites, but they have to be very smart. They cannot act like normal students. GM’s, scouts, etc., do go to those sites and read all. Teams have been known to knock players way down for bad conduct on it like open drunkenness, smoking and the like. 

Joe: Not long ago Joe noticed on your Twitter feed that you were going to appear on — your words — “Hot Megyn Kelly’s show” on Fox News. Joe greatly admires beautiful, intelligent women, as well. Is Megyn Kelly as lovely on a satellite feed or in studio as she is in HD?

Cindrich: (laughs) That was actually a joke. I’ve never been on hot Megyn Kelly’s show. Of course I would love to be on her show someday! Yes I think she’s beautiful! And yes, I know she’s married and recently had a child. But let me tell you: she is one tough momma. She’s a lawyer of course and she’s one tough momma. She’s sharp. She really knows her stuff. She doesn’t back down from anybody. She never backs down from Bill O’Reilly, she’ll give it right back to him and has.

I will tell you someone from Fox News who is as beautiful in person as she is on TV and that is Jane Skinner (Joe’s note: Skinner, who has a dirty little mind, is the wife of NFL warden commissioner Roger Goodell). I’ve met her. Her personality is as beautiful as she is on TV. She’s really a sweet, kind and very pretty woman. Classy.

One Response to “A Look Inside The Combine”

  1. George C. Costanza Says:

    Josh Freeman is helping scout WR prospects, Joe.