In less than two weeks, hundreds of NFL employees will begin their week long February convention known as the Scouting Combine. Not only will every coach, scout, and front office type attend, but just about every player’s agent will also attend. The Combine isn’t just about the positional workouts we watch on the NFL Network, it’s also about 335 players going through the most comprehensive physical of their life and for the agents, they begin to put deals together for the beginning of free agency.
This will be the 31st straight Scouting Combine held by the NFL. The first one in 1985 was held on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. The following year the Combine was at the Super Dome in New Orleans just a few days after Super Bowl XX. The next year (1987) the Combine was moved to Indianapolis and has remained there ever since.
For a few years before the 1985 Combine, each of the three scouting services at the time (National Scouting, Blesto and Quadra) held their own version of a combine in late January and early February. This was rough on the players as they had to go to all three “camps”. When Quadra dissolved after the 1984 draft, its members (Buffalo, Dallas, Seattle and San Francisco) joined one of the other two services. To make things easier for all involved, the league and clubs decided to have a joint combine.
The reason the original combine was held at Arizona was weather data over the previous 20 years showed that there would be less than a 10% chance of rain during the time of the event. That proved wrong, as there was rain on two of the days the players were working out.
The 1986 combine in New Orleans was not the most organized event I have ever attended. With the Super Bowl being the week before, there were some logistical nightmares. The main reason Indianapolis was picked the following year was it had a dome stadium, was centrally located, and there were a number of hospitals close by to help with the medical exams. It made scheduling a lot easier.