INDIANAPOLIS – Just minutes after a terse and uncomfortable press conference in front of the media at Lucas Oil Stadium where Robert Nkemdiche admitted to taking plays off, revealed that teammate Laremy Tunsil was in the Atlanta hotel room in which Nkemdiche fell off the balcony 15 feet, and claimed he was under the influence of alcohol – but not weed – when it happened, the Ole Miss star and NFL prospect was smiling and cracking jokes.
Above the NFL Combine scrum, the third floor club level had been turned into two separate sets, one for the NFL Network and one for ESPN. Prospects paraded in and out, some with no more than a 30-second warning, and guys spent anywhere between three and 20 minutes in front of the camera, goofing around, and generally acting like college kids. For guys with millions of dollars on the line, it might be one of the last times they’d get to do something like this. And it brought some much needed levity to one of the biggest weeks of their professional lives.
When asked what his favorite part of the week was, Nkemdiche didn’t hesitate.
“This,” he said. “I’m in my element here. It’s the only place you can be yourself. Everywhere else, you have to act a bit.”
While writers downstairs were busy tweeting and writing up Nkemdiche’s red flags and how strange that press conference was, he was trying to fit into the Nike Flywire cleats that had been provided for him in the makeshift costume area that ESPN set up.
“I’ve got fat feet,” Nkemdiche said, shoving the right one on and finally standing back up.
The production crew ran him through a video shoot in a big black box while Future was playing on a Spotify playlist. They ran the defensive end through cues and mock drills, as well as intense shots for dramatic effect.