This coming Wednesday, the 2011 NFL Combine gets underway as the largest annual meat-market in professional sports comes to Indianapolis once again. NFL Network will be providing over 30 hours of coverage between February 24 and March 1 as we'll get to see drills, press conferences, and more analysis than you can possible imagine. Press conferences will be airing each day around 11:30am (all times pacific as usual). NFL Total Access will provide recaps, analysis and interviews at 4:00pm each day. And of course we'll get live workouts beginning at 6:00am each day. All in all a good time.
I'd imagine some folks (although likely not many on a site like Niners Nation) are wondering how NFL Network can consistently provide this kind of coverage and still do decent ratings. Well, amazingly enough, last year saw 5.2 million people watch NFL Network's 2010 Combine coverage at some point over the four days. One comparison: A stretch of three MLB games in one week on ESPN drew a combined four million viewers last season. It's likely not really fair comparison as we're probably comparing apples to oranges. However, it at least provides a glimpse at how obscene the NFL's reach really is at this point.
I still consider baseball America's national past time, but the NFL is America's League at this point. When the NFL's Pro Bowl, easily the worst of the four All Star games, draws ratings close to those of the World Series, that's saying something. Again, it's a tough comparison given the different time frames and whatnot, but it still shows just where the NFL is compared to other leagues in America.
Over the course of the next two weeks we'll have all sorts of coverage at Niners Nation, but we're always open to suggestions for additional coverage. Drew K will be putting together a preview heading into the Combine (likely coming tomorrow). As each day progresses we'll have an official Combine FanPost for discussion (more than likely it'll become multiple FanPosts). I'll have plenty of posts looking at notable performances and details from the day as well. However, if you have something specific about the Combine you'd like to know about, please feel post a comment or email me. Given that we don't have much to discuss in free agency, we'll have Combine over-drive here.