The Z REPORT
Lance Zierlein: Here's how Senior Bowl week looks from an insider's perspective
Every year scouts, coaches, media members, agents, marketing reps and draft prospects gather in Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl for what amounts to a week of All-Star practice where evaluators develop opinions about these players based on how they play in a series of one-on-one battles and team scrimmages. Does the actual game matter? Kinda, but I feel like it matters more to the locals than to any of the NFL teams who usually leave town after Thursday’s final practice.
But what is it like behind the scenes? What does Lance Zierlein do? Thanks for asking, guys. Every year I do my radio show from a “radio row” that features me and a local Alabama show. The topics on that show are... uh.... a little different than what is usually on my show. For example, if you need to know what's going on with Alabama's recruiting you will find out. If you need hypothetical discussions of Nick Saban as President of our country, that's your spot. This year, after my Tuesday show, I was lucky enough to tear tendons in my foot and take a trip to the hospital but whatevs. I’ve already told that story on The Bench.
What makes the Senior Bowl week so cool is how loose it is. It's an important piece in the puzzle that is player evaluations, but there is also a social component where NFL people relax a little. At any point you can see guys like Dan Marino talking to John Elway on the sideline during a practice. After practice you might see GMs like Chris Ballard, Reggie McKenzie, Brian Gaine or John Dorsey having dinner with their scouts and personnel people at Wintzell’s Oyster House at a table right across from you. And there is a good chance you will see coaches and personnel people you recognize who are unemployed who look at the Senior Bowl week as a job fair and opportunity to interview with a team. Last year, I saw Wes Welker chatting it up with Bill O'Brien in the entryway of the hotel. Little did I know that Welker was actually in Mobile interviewing for a job as receivers coach.
And when it’s time to get loose? The go-to spot.... for as long as I can remember.... has been Veet’s conveniently located across the street from the primary hotel. Now if you think Veet’s is some sort of kick-ass club or hot night spot where the cool kids of Mobile gather, you would be wrong. No, it’s a straight up dude factory just like the entire Senior Bowl week. There is nothing nice about the place. Clearly remodeling or updating is not on their itinerary. They know you will come in and drink their beer or their vodka tonics regardless of if their toilet works. They know you will eat their fried mushrooms or instant pizza regardless of if they ever mop the floor to freshen up the smell. It's a dive bar where EVERYONE either goes or has gone.
Have too much to drink, fall asleep, wake up early for the show, eat lunch, watch back-to-back practices, have a great dinner with football friends at Dumbwaiter and then do it all over again the next day.