The state of the NFL Combine

NFL CombineThe NFL Combine wrapped up this week in Indianapolis and once again its stature continues to grow. Even with all the success of the combine currently, there are a lot of questions about its future. In particular, where should it be held, how can it be made better for TV, and how to improve the fan experience. Let's dive into a few of these questions.

Where should it be held?

Indianapolis is an incredible city for the NFL Combine. Not only is it centrally located, but there is something to be said about consistency. Consistency from using the same medical staff, same turf in Lucas Oil Stadium, familiarity in media setups and hosting, all help make the case to stay. However, just like the Super Bowl, and more recently the NFL Draft and the Pro Bowl, as an event becomes more and more about the media there is reason to move it. Consider a move to Los Angeles where production and media availability becomes easier and the weather isn’t too bad either. As a resident of the Indianapolis area, I hope it stays put, but the tea leaves are starting to show. 

What’s next for TV?

The NFL Network does a very good job in their coverage of the NFL Combine. However, the event kind of is what it is at this point. It’s built for scouts and the die-hard football fans to watch their college heroes try to prove their value in the eye of the NFL. So, what can bring the event even more excitement than watching Rich Eisen run? We’ve seen stunts like Adidas offering an island to whoever runs the fastest 40-yard dash, while in their shoes. How about side-by-side 40yd dashes? Every athlete gets two attempts at the 40yd dash, so what if you let them all go once and then round two they are paired up with athletes with similar times in a head to head 40yd dash. When you get two sub 4.4 athletes sprinting head to head you start to get that Olympic sprinting feel.

Can the fan experience improve?

The NFL Combine is not meant for the general public although you can attend. A select number of tickets are given to the general public through a lottery system. I would like to see a section of the upper deck or club level devoted to fans who want to attend. Open it up and let people in. These athletes perform in front of fans on game days in college and will be expected to do so as well on Sundays. Secondly, how about adding more fan engagement much like the Super Bowl? The event has moved to take place primarily over the weekend now to improve ratings, so take advantage of that opportunity by creating a more engaging family experience with fun-tivities. I think this is especially important if the event does change venues.

An event traditionally reserved for coaches, scouts and GMs has evolved into an event that die-hard fans go crazy for. What will the combine look like going forward?

For more experiential marketing insights, reach out to me at or download our Trends in Experiential Marketing eBook!

Download our Experiential Marketing Trends eBook!