NFL combine director remembers when Jerry Jones saved the day

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

As president of National Football Scouting and the director of the NFL Scouting Combine, Jeff Foster has his share of stories about putting on the combine since he took over in 2005.

One he will never forget was the day Jerry Jones came to the combine's rescue.

Foster said an ice storm a few years ago had grounded most commercial flights into Indianapolis, where the combine is annually held. It was the final day for the medical staffs to evaluate players and all participants had made it to Indiana except two defensive backs, who were stuck in Dallas.

"We're always anxious for the final player to arrive," Foster said last week. "That' means we're safe logistically. ... They were the last two players.

"The airline and the travel agents that we use told us, 'We're out of luck. We can't get them in there.' "

Making matters worse, all of the doctors were preparing to leave because it was their last scheduled day for player physicals. Foster said players can bypass the agility drills and interviews, but they can't miss the physical exams, because all 32 teams rely on that medical information.

"There's no catching those two players up," Foster said, "and medical is the No. 1 priority."

But Foster had heard through combine doctors that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was sending his personal jet from Dallas to Indianapolis to pick up the Cowboys' team doctors, who were helping at the combine and could not get home the next day because of cancelled flights.

Foster said the conversation went as such:

Foster: "We have our final two players that are stranded in Dallas. We understand you might be flying your plane up here."

Jones: "It leaves in 90 minutes."

Foster: "Could our two players catch a ride?"

Jones: "Absolutely."

"So we called these two players on their cell phones and we told them to run out of the airport, jump in a cab and give them these directions," Foster said. "The (cabs) took them to a private airport, they jumped on Mr. Jones' plane and they were here in a couple of hours."

Foster said every year stories like that occurr -- some he can repeat and others he cannot.

"Sometimes they have happy endings and sometimes they don't," he said. "It's what makes event management exciting."

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