By Tony Softli
Many years ago as a College Director of Carolina Panthers, I sat on the forty yard line in the RCA Dome timing NIC-NFL Combine prospects with my peers which included General Managers, National Scouts and Area Scouts. The conversation and future visualization of the Combine was the topic of day.
Our biggest concern was the NFL taking over total control from NIC (National Invitational Camp), putting the event on network television, developing relationships with multiple sponsors and selling tickets to the fans. In the past our fears were the NFL would turn the most important off season event next to NFL selection process, into a circus side show. Selling food which would save each clubs low man on the totem pole from running to Shaprios Deli for sandwiches for a staff of thirty would not be a bad idea.
Team Executives and their personnel departments don’t want to lose control of the sterile environment in which they sit for six hours a day evaluating sprints, positional drill work, jumps and shuttles. You could hear a pin drop throughout the day of workouts. The only noise I can remember in my twenty-two years of attending the combine was ice & water mixture ripped a large section of the RCA dome roof and several hundred gallons came crashing onto the stances near scouts.
Over the last several years the NFL has taken over the rights of the Combine from NIC. The NFL Combine can now be seen on NFL Network owned by NFL owners as a live event. They brought in sponsors like Underarmour, Adidas and Apex Marketing Group (analytics firm), technology giant Microsoft and Explore Consulting team up to track player performance data and workout results.
Adam Peake, Under Armour’s executive vice president of global marketing, said in a written statement. “We also have the ability to connect all fans to the combine and to be an authentic partner in training through our new team-specific gear offerings.”
The Media who once was kept standing in the hall ways of the convention center, know has a workspace area in Lucas Oil Stadium with multiple podiums for interviewing NFL Coaches, General Managers and prospects. Yes, the fans can now fly to Indianapolis and enjoy free events including watching prospects compete, access to press conferences and autograph sessions with NFL Legends. The league directive is to attract the fan to Indianapolis in March and drive up positive fan interest during the off season.
Per NFL Communications: NFL Combine experience will be held in the Indiana Convention Center March 1st-3rd eight hours per day from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. on March 1-3 and 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM on March 4 – fans can be a part of the action and will have the opportunity to:
• Watch top prospects Bench Press – lifting 225 pounds until failure
• View NFL Media members in the Media Center do their jobs during press conferences and interviews of all prospects
• Attend NFL Talks – panel discussions featuring special guests
• Photo Ops – Lombardi and Super Bowl ring display
• Receive free autographs from NFL Legends presented by PANINI
In order to attend the NFL Combine Experience, fans are required to register for Fan Mobile Pass at NFL.com/CombineFMP. Fans are also encouraged to check into events with Fan Mobile Pass for the chance to win autographed memorabilia, NFL game tickets, and more. Additional information is available at NFL.com/CombineExperience.
Its here! This will be the first step in NFL fans sitting in seats and watching 330 plus NFL prospects compete live inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Its called the NFL Combine “Inside Look” they will be allowed watch skill drills just like NFL owners and NFL professionals. All attendees will receive in-ear radios with access to the NFL Network broadcast, as well as exclusive insight from NFL Legends and Combine staff. Request free tickets via Fan Mobile Pass at NFL.com/CombineFMP.
Listed below is the schedule for the 2018 NFL Combine workouts. Players are brought in several days prior in waves based off position and get their medical exam completed. Those with injuries or medical concerns will not participate depending on discovery.
• Friday, March 2: 12:00 PM – Offensive Line, Running Backs
• Saturday, March 3:
◦ 8:00 AM – Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends
◦ 10:30 AM – Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends
• Sunday, March 4: 10:00 AM – Defensive Line, Linebackers
NFL Communications: The Combine can be streamed live on smartphones and various connected devices through the NFL App; on tablets through the NFL, Watch NFL Network and NFL on Windows 10 apps; and on desktops and laptops at NFL.com/watch with participating television providers. For more information, go to nfl.com/watch.
Audio programming will also be carried by SiriusXM NFL Radio and TuneIn app. For the full schedule and all the ways to watch the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine, go to: NFL.com/WatchCombine.
From a NFL personnel standpoint technology and marketing of the NFL product has taken over the Combine, next they will move past the NFL Experience and start selling tickets like a game, tailgating and will have intermission breaks between position groups and maybe just maybe fans will win a raffle to compete against Rich Eisen in the forty. Change is here, how far will they promote their product and compromise the integrity of the personnel scouting process.
NFL Combine data courtesy of NFL Communications