INDIANAPOLIS — This week kicks off year number 35 that the NFL Scouting Combine has taken place in Indianapolis.
Since Monday, prospective NFL players have descended on the Circle City to fill out paperwork, go through medical examinations, and soon to go through on-field drills and activities. It’s the ultimate job interview, says Chris Gahl, the Vice President of Visit Indy who helps organize and put the event on.
But it nearly didn’t happen this year as the NFL again considered holding the event in a bubble-type setting like last year because of lingering concerns over the COVID pandemic. Many players threatened to boycott the Combine.
“A handful of players were saying ‘we don’t think (a bubble) is the best way to come in and be evaluated,” Gahl said. “Long story short it got worked out. These college athletes have worked their entire life to hopefully have a good job interview in Indy to then get drafted here in a few weeks. They’re happy they can bring surrounding personnel to help cheer them on. Sometimes that includes family and friends.”
In fact, the NFL Scouting Combine will be quite the opposite of a bubble this year. For the first time ever in the history of the event since it was first held in Indianapolis back in 1987, fans will be allowed to watch the on-field activity in the lower bowl of Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We have about 100,000 fans and visitors who have signed up for a free ticket to step into Lucas Oil Stadium for either Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday,” said Gahl.
That number means Indy will cash in even bigger on the Combine than in previous years. Gahl anticipates a rough impact of around $10 million to be felt by businesses in downtown Indy.
But, Gahl said they are not resting on their laurels this time around because the future of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is uncertain with Los Angeles and Dallas putting in competitive bids to steal the event away from Indy. All three are finalists to host the Combine next year. Needless to say, this year is a de facto “job interview’ as much for the city of Indianapolis as it is for the 300+ college players.
“We need this year to be perfect, the best year yet in our 35 year history so that there’s no question the NFL keeps the event here and growing in Indy,” Gahl said. “We feel we are perfectly positioned to retain the event. We do know other cities with NFL franchises want this event because of the economic impact.”
Quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers will go through on-field drills starting on Thursday. Offensive linemen, running backs, and special teams drills will follow on Friday. Defensive linemen and linebackers go on Saturday, and defensive backs will work out on Sunday.