An Auburn linebacker chatting civilly with an Alabama quarterback?
No mud slung? Not at all.
Josh Bynes’ quick meeting with Greg McElroy in the Mobile hotel lobby was just one of many shared between the once-bitter rivals turned Senior Bowl teammates.
On the day players arrived for the week-long NFL tryout, the three Alabama seniors and three from Auburn played nice without another Iron Bowl on their horizon.
Regardless of how contentious the two fan bases can be, Bynes said those who actually step between the white lines have respect for one another. His talk with McElroy even began with a quick high-five.
“It wasn’t awkward at all,” Bynes said. “Off the field, we’re guys. We’re just normal human beings. We say hello. We don’t have that kind of animosity towards each other.”
With their college careers over, McElroy sees a commonality with his orange- and-blue teammates.
“If anything, we appreciate how hard it is to get to the top of that mountain,” he said. “It’s not an easy task, so you need to congratulate those guys and give them credit where its due and they’re very deserving of being able to celebrate a big victory. I’m sure they’re still on cloud nine simply because of how close it was and there really hasn’t been that long of a layover for them.”
The business of taking their careers to the next level gets serious today when both all-star teams open practice. Before that comes the famous cattle call known as the national scouting weigh-in where television cameras capture every player stepping on a scale on a stage in a crowded ballroom.
That’s just part of the madness that is Senior Bowl week.
Scouts, general managers, owners and anyone else with a stake in an NFL franchise will stop through Mobile this week with an eye on drafting the next super star. Before registering on the second floor of the downtown Mobile hotel Sunday, players navigated two floors full of pro talent hawks looking to steal a few minutes with the players.
In light of the scrutiny, players fanned out across the country to work with specialized trainers to prepare for the next few months of evaluations. Those training sessions brought two Alabama players together with Senior Bowl teammate Lee Ziemba.
Working out in Atlanta gave the Tide’s Preston Dial and James Carpenter a chance to know the Tiger’s 6-foot-8, 319 offensive lineman.
Again, no hard feelings.
Dial and Ziemba talked about the common journeys both programs took to win the past two BCS national titles. Both agreed luck plays a part, but nothing tops the hard work.
But seriously, can they avoid trash talk all together.
“No, not with Lee. He’s too good of a guy,” Dial said. “I’d feel bad if I talked trash to him.”
Ziemba, on the other hand, said some playful sparring took place on the side.
“Oh yeah,” Ziemba said. “We talk about each other’s educations and stuff.”
All jokes aside, practice begins at 2:45 p.m. today at Fairhope Stadium for the six Alabama delegates on the South team. The daily workouts culminate at 3 p.m. Saturday at Ladd-Pebbles Stadium when the Senior Bowl kicks off with former enemies wearing the same colors for the first time.