INDIANAPOLIS — Fifteen years ago, the NFL Scouting Combine experience dramatically changed for the better when John Lott took over spotting prospects on the bench press.
“When I put you in this setting, and I kind of back you into a corner, how are you going to respond?,” Lott, the Cardinals’ strength coach, said Saturday in between sessions at Lucas Oil Stadium. “You want to be a player? Show me what you’ve got.”
When it’s go time, Lott is no-nonsense behind the bench, like a drill sergeant trying to get the best out of his soldiers. Maybe it’s the Bill Parcells effect, since Lott got his NFL start with the Jets while Parcells was coach.
That would explain Lott’s philosophy on the bench press’ role at the combine.
“(Prospects) might’ve gone through a Wonderlic Test about how their grandma fed them, about how they didn’t have a dad in their life, and we find out about their history and how they enjoy football, if they’ve been in a fistfight,” Lott said. “OK, I hear what you’re saying, but this is, ‘I see what you’re doing.’ This is, ‘Have you been working out? And when you’ve been working out, how strong are you? And when you start to fade out, how long can you last?’ ”
In other words, get your mind right — something Lott preaches daily here.
Yes, Lott is intense. Yes, he’s loud. Yes, he’s in your face. All of that might seem like nothing more than show for the TV cameras.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
“This isn’t about me. It’s about us,” Lott said. “I’m a real big team guy. This isn’t golf, this isn’t tennis. This is football. And I truly believe when I’m spotting somebody that I’m representing him and representing the coaches in the stands. I’ve really embodied that.
“It’s not meant to be arrogant or condescending. I want the guys to understand that at that moment, they don’t have a bigger fan in the room than me.”
— Simon Samano