The stories about ridiculous questions coming out of the NFL Combine— including the now infamous one that Dez Bryant had to answer about his mother back in 2010— have become a tradition in recent years; an asinine tradition, but a tradition nonetheless. To deal with this new eventuality, players are now prepped and tested for just about every imaginable question that teams might throw at them; there is even a list of things that they shouldn’t even bother to answer, even if asked directly.
Well, while former Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker didn’t get any questions that crossed any moral or legal boundaries, according to USA Today’s Draft Wire, he did get one that he was not expecting.
#NFL coach: "What would you do if I punched you in the face right now?"— Draft Wire (@TheDraftWire) April 2, 2018
Jerome: "Coach, no disrespect, but if you punch me in the face, we’re gonna fight right here."
Check out our exclusive interview w/@OhioStateFB LB @Lastname_Baker: https://t.co/s48EQanQu9
In the article, Baker said that the first question that an unnamed NFL coach asked him in their interview session was what he would do if the coach punched him in the face right then and there.
Unfazed by the idiotic inquiry, Baker told USA Today, “To me, being from Cleveland, my natural reaction was, ‘Coach, no disrespect but if you punch me in the face, we’re gonna fight right here.’”
According to Baker, the coach in question just said “Good,” and moved on. However, later in the day, the former Buckeye happened across the coach and asked him why he opened with that specific question. Rather than it being about any unsubstantiated rumor that the coach had heard about Baker, he admitted that it was simply to see how the linebacker would respond.
“He said most guys freeze up or say they wouldn’t do anything when he asks them that,” Baker told Draft Wire. “He said, ‘I don’t know about you, but if somebody were to randomly punch me in the face right now, I wouldn’t just stand there. I’d fight back.’ I guess he liked my response (laughs).”
I’m sure there are a handful of coaches running through your head as to who might have asked the question, if ya know what I mean, man. But, for the most part, Baker said that he didn’t get too many bizarre questions, from this coach or others.
Now, I understand that, in a short period of time, teams are trying to peel back the practiced and rehearsed layers of these players in an effort to understand who they are as people, and how they might be as members of their eventual organizations. But, does asking how someone would respond if they were punched in the face really tell you anything of value?
Football is a game of instincts and reactions, after all. If you really want to know how someone would react if he was punched in the face, punch him in the face. Or, you know, don’t; and instead do your research and talk to his college coaches, professors, teammates, and mentors, to try to see who he is outside of these ridiculously contrived Q&As.
For what it’s worth, the two-time All-Big Ten honoree had a fairly strong performance in the on-field workouts at the combine, finishing fourth in his position group in the 40-yard dash (4.53), third in the broad jump (10’6), sixth in the vertical jump (36.5 inches), and seventh in the bench press (22 reps). He is currently projected as a second or third-round pick.
Which NFL head coach do you think asked Baker this question?
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