File this under strange NFL Combine questions: Texas punter Michael Dickson said the Seahawks made him participate in a staring contest.
INDIANAPOLIS — Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Friday the team is going to “get after it in every nook and cranny we can’’ to get back to being a playoff team after 2017’s stumble.
That apparently includes asking at least one player at the NFL Combine to fulfill an unusual request — participate in a staring contest.
Texas punter Michael Dickson revealed the staring contest during his official media session Friday when asked what was the strangest thing a team had asked him during one of his interviews.
“I mean I had to do a staring contest and I had to see how long I could stare without blinking,’’ Dickson said. “I had a couple of attempts. I tried a few techniques, looking away from the light, trying to block any sort of wind coming into the eyes. That was a weird process.”
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Further questioning revealed that the team making the request was the Seahawks.
So how did he do?
“The first time I did terrible,’’ Dickson said. “I only lasted for 14 seconds, but my third time I had figured out a technique to look around the room just to get your eyes a little watery, I guess.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has always been known for thinking outside the box, and maybe this was just some of that — at least one other player, Notre Dame wide receiver Equanimious St. Brown, also indicated that he was asked to do a staring contest with the implication it was the Seahawks who made the request.
Or maybe the Seahawks just weren’t sure what else to ask a punter other than: Can you punt the ball well?
Dickson was apparently one of the 60 players the Seahawks had in for official 15-minute visits.
That Seattle would spend one of the visits on a punter is noteworthy in itself.
Seattle hasn’t had to worry about a punter since 2008 when Jon Ryan came aboard — he’s the only player left on the roster who predates the arrival of coach Pete Carroll in 2010.
But Ryan is now 36 and has a contract that includes salary cap hits of $3.2 million and $3.6 million the next two years with dead money of $1.2 million and $600,000 and with Seattle in the obvious mood to make major changes, saving some money on a younger punter might be the way the team decides to go.
Punters don’t get drafted often — Seattle hasn’t taken a kicker or punter since Carroll arrived.
But Dickson, a native of Sydney, Australia, is regarded as almost a sure thing to get taken after winning the Ray Guy Award — given to the best punter in the nation — in a unanimous vote, averaging 47.4 yards per kick and capping off his season by being named the MVP of the Texas Bowl.
His season was so good that he became the even rarer punter to declare early for the NFL draft, though he said he stayed in school so he could keep his student visa and only has 18 hours left to complete his degree.
As for whether he won his stare-down with the Seahawks, that may not be known until the draft rolls around April 26-28.