For those who watch the combine on TV and wonder what goes on behind the scenes, here are 10 happenings you won’t see that dominate conversations on the streets and in the hotels of Indy. NFL teams will spend countless hours evaluating and interviewing players and holding internal meetings with scouts and coaches, but there will be other activities taking place throughout the week.
1) It’s the “unofficial” start of free agency. Agents and teams meet discreetly to discuss availability, interest and price tags of top free agents.
2) Competition among the highest profile reporters leads to them report virtually everything they hear. Agents notoriously use well-known sports writers to create activity and attention for their draft picks and free agents. Only believe about half what you hear on TV or read during the combine.
3) The NFL Players Association will conduct an intimate meeting with a handful of top agents and a few player reps prior to their annual meeting on Friday. The smaller meeting will include many subjects, including labor issues.
4) A large group of financial advisers will be roaming the lobbies, bars and restaurants looking to build and strengthen relationships with agents.
5) Specialized trainers hired by agents will have hotel rooms set up for players to get stretched, have massages and/or pick up supplements. Several supplement and equipment companies will make their presence known as well.
6) There will be about 100 or more coaches who are either out of work or looking to move from college to the pros. They’ll be stalking NFL head coaches with resumes in hand. Unfortunately, they’ll be lucky if they get a handshake.
7) There will be a handful of interviews by GMs for scouting positions, and there will be a few coaching interviews that were set up prior to the week.
8) Agents will call and text NFL executives requesting they meet for a drink or dinner to discuss their free agents, draft picks or players’ issues. The Indy restaurants will be full of strange gatherings.
9) High-end clothing and jewelry ventures will have rooms set up for players so they can be fitted for suits, jewelry, watches and shirts. These companies, which also show up at all-star games, get measurements of players so they can become regular catalog shoppers. The players have little time for this, but many seem to find a way to get it done.
10) Evenings will be full of beer drinking, storytelling, gossip, complaining, deal-making and laughing. And a little more drinking followed by a late-night stop at Steak ‘n Shake.
I’ll be right in the middle of it all.
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For a look at who and what to watch at the combine, check out this article from Bleacher Report.