This week’s old, stodgy NFL Scouting Combine is going Hollywood.
As players train inside, the sound of silence will be replaced with music. Interviews and results will be displayed on the video boards at Lucas Oil Stadium and fans will be encouraged cheer.
It is not clear if all these changes will signal a drastically different future for the league’s second-biggest offseason tournament.
After a one year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic draft prospects, scouts and coaches, team officials eagerly return to Indianapolis once more — maybe the last.
Jeff Foster, president and CEO of National Football Scouting which manages the combine, stated that “I think the club owners would love to bring an event with a tentpole to their town from both a fan standpoint and from an economic standpoint.” “When the draft was moved to different cities, it took off, that’s what sparked interest. That’s why we began looking at it.”
Although the debate about moving has been ongoing for many years, this time it seems to be different.
Due to the expiring contract and the league’s desire to move large events across the country, there are three cities — Dallas and Los Angeles — that are vying for the 2023 and 2024 event. Foster expects an announcement in May.
However, team executives believe Indy is the ideal spot. For many reasons, Indy has been home to every combine since 1987. This includes Indy’s covered walkways that allow players to exercise, take medical exams, and conduct interviews without the need for a car or navigate traffic in unfamiliar locations. They can also find entertainment and restaurants without ever having to go outside.
This is not true everywhere.
Foster stated that if Foster and Foster decide to move to another city, it would be very difficult. This is especially true for the first year, when it could be challenging to do all the things they’re used too in the same time. From a logistical perspective, the greatest challenge is the medical part.
Foster has learned one thing over the years: Change is the only certainty.
The 2020 combine was the last major American sporting event before the pandemic. The event was replaced by the players’ individual pro day schedules last year. Agents threatened to ban players from interviewing and participating in workouts this year due to proposed restrictions on the health of players’ support staff. Many of the top players opt out of the workouts.
The boycott was avoided last week, when medical experts agreed that the original guidelines to be loosen were appropriate. They had been revised earlier in the winter due to the declining number of COVID-19 cases.
“I believe you would have seen a lot of them carry out on that threat,” stated Daniel Jeremiah, an analyst at NFL Network who will be covering this week’s coverage. “I’m happy it all worked out. But I understand their point of view because you had one idea in your head about how you were going to prepare for the event. Then that idea changed.”
Other changes were made by organizers, too.
The psychological testing was eliminated, which reduces the players’ time by one day. After players complained that the soreness the day after caused a decrease in their workout results, they are hoping to reduce waiting times for medical examinations with another alteration.
League officials threatened to discipline teams for asking inappropriate questions during interviews.
Fans will be able to see a brand new environment for prime-time training.
Officials from the league are offering 10,000 tickets to fans to get in the lower bowl of the stadium for the first time. This will be separate from scouts. Over four days, the league saw an average of 7,800 players in 2019.
A D.J. A D.J. will play soft music during drills and blast music during warmups. Two in-stadium hosts and food and beverage sales will ensure that the crowd is energized.
Katie Conklin, NFL presentation coordinator and event contact, stated that the NFL wants to make the environment more fan-friendly. The most important thing is to keep the integrity of the combine, for both the players and the scouts. We want it to be more exciting for fans.”
This could also help league officials decide if a more glamorous atmosphere is better in Dallas or Los Angeles, or if Indy has the flair to host a combine.
Foster stated that “I believe logistically, there’s a lot of things (Indianapolis is) that separate it from other cities.” “When it comes managing events with so many moving parts, I’m definitely biased towards Indianapolis because of our partnerships, relationships, and history.”