The NFL Combine is open to fans now! Did you know that? Probably not, but now you do. The NFL doesn't over-promote this because if they did, the demand would be crazy. 1iota.com gives fans the chance to attend NFL events. They are also giving fans tickets to attend the NFL Draft for free this year, so be on the lookout. I was able to attend the NFL Honors in 2012, and Sunday I was lucky enough to be one of a couple hundred fans to attend the NFL Combine. It was a fun time and I thought I'd give you a rundown of my experience.
I live about three hours from Indianapolis, so the decision was easy to go. My friend Brian (Bills fan), and his fiance Mallorie (Bears fan) came with me to Indy. We arrived Saturday night, and before exploring the town we dropped by the prospect hotel, the Crowne Plaza. Police were everywhere at the hotel but we were allowed into the hotel bar. The bar was being used as a meeting place for prospects, scouts, coaches, and agents. For the brief time we were there we were surrounded by players such as Geno Smith, Zach Ertz, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Chance Warmack. Leaving the hotel we saw a flood of players walking into the hotel, all carrying three to four boxes of shoes a piece. They looked like kids who were just bought a bunch of toys. Athletes love shoes.
When arriving to Lucas Oil Stadium (two hours before events began), the 1Iota staff and NFL executives ushered us into the Advantage Club there for some awesome breakfast. Bacon, scrambled eggs, pastries, sausage, biscuits, fruit, and other delicious goodness. Colts tackle Anthony Castonzo went around table-to-table signing autographs during breakfast and seemed like a real friendly guy. Most of the fans at the event were Colts fans, and I only saw one person wearing 49ers gear, which is to be expected in Indiana unfortunately.
After breakfast it was time for the Combine to begin. We went up an elevator to the middle level of the stadium and sat in the front row. They supplied us with a sheet of all the players performing for the day with all their information and an area to write notes. I wrote more than the space provided, but luckily I brought a notepad. Just like seeing an NFL game in person, seeing the Combine in person made you realize how fast some of these players really are.
Throughout the day we were limited to talking in library voices and weren't allowed to bring cell phones or cameras in. It was a bit of a bummer but understandable. It only takes one person to do something stupid, so rules like that are used to limit the likelihood of something stupid happening. And thankfully, nothing stupid happened.
While we were sitting in our seats, we were surprised by a couple guest visits. First was former Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots star Fred Taylor. Later it was "The Freak" Jevon Kearse. Both of them were very friendly and signed autographs for anyone who wanted one. Kearse still looks like he is in gameday shape. I wouldn't mess with him.
When our portion (almost all of QB/WR) wrapped, they took us back down to the Advantage Club to feed us lunch. During lunch they had door prizes, Unfortunately I didn't win anything. Colts safety Antoine Bethea came around to sign autographs, and he was kind like the other players at the event. When lunch was over it was time for us to leave. I left with a full stomach and good memories.
Being fed twice and being able to attend the combine for free was something that is worth doing every single time. Hopefully the next time I'm at the combine I have credentials to go along with it. I enjoyed my time as a fan though. I love football. Who's got it better than us? If you're a football fan, the answer is NOBODY!