With the draft just a week away, NFL teams are looking for any advantage to outsmart their competition. Many will invent their own equations to evaluate prospects, while using advanced technology to aid their overanalysis and allow them to fully trust the board. There’s GPS data, psychological testing, and this year, a brand new tactic, brought to you by Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni: Rock, paper, scissors.
That’s right, the Philadelphia Eagles are ranking the competitive nature of prospects by engaging them in a rousing virtual match of rock, paper, scissors, a rudimentary game for children with only three possible choices, requiring little to no strategy, and therefore capable of revealing very little about the character of the winner or loser of the game. And yet none of this was enough to prevent the Eagles braintrust from proudly talking about their use of the game during meetings with prospects. During a Wednesday press conference, general manager Howie Roseman teased a “unique” way that his coaches, “found out about competitiveness through some games,” during this virtual draft process.
“Coach can talk about that a little if he wants to,” Roseman said, looking towards first-year head coach Nick Sirianni on his left. And boy, did Coach want to talk about it. Sirianni let Roseman finish the rest of his answer, but did not wait for a reporter to actually ask him what these “unique” games might be.
“I’ll tell ya, I think some of you guys are wondering, like, what game?” Sirianni said, though there was no evidence that anyone was actually wondering. “We didn’t go earth-shattering on these games, right? I played a couple of them at rock, paper, scissors, right? It was as easy as that, rock, paper, scissors, let’s see how competitive you are! I’m competitive, I’m going to be talking trash to him. Did you talk trash back to me? Right?”
Sirianni punctuated his enthusiasm with some violent arm gesturing throughout. He added that Eagles coaches did a great job with the games, which also included Jeopardy! “They all did a great job of just figuring out how to compete,” he said. “‘Cause everyone’s compete looks a little different. I get up there and I play ‘em rock, paper, scissors, they got a little more creative than I did at times.”
The natural follow-up, which was not asked, is how does one get creative with rock, paper, scissors? Did Sirianni expect prospects to invent a fourth element? Maybe flipping him off with a bird, as a tribute to the Eagles, a trump card to show the ultimate competitive fire, and the only correct response to being asked to play rock, paper, scissors during a professional job interview.
Did a QB prospect use two hands to play to show supreme intelligence? Did offensive linemen only throw up the rock to demonstrate they are an immovable force? Did DBs only throw paper because they cover so well?
Sirianni wrapped up his rock paper soliloquy with his equally earth-shattering definition of competitive.
“Anything you compete at,” he said. “When you compete with somebody that is competitive, they are going to go at you no matter what, no matter what game you are playing.”
And then he issued a challenge to Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Les Bowen, whose original question about what type of player is a “Nick Sirianni player” set off the whole RPS conversation.
“Les, me and you can play rock, paper, scissors when we get in person together,” Sirianni said.
“That would be great,” Bowen replied, sounding completely uninterested by that offer.
Bowen should take him up on that, if only to hear Sirianni’s trash talk. And in the meantime, Eagles fans should rest easy, knowing that the team’s 2021 draft class is going to be a bunch of guys who are great at what really matters: manufacturing motivation from a totally meaningless childhood game.