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Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America via Zimbio
Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America via Zimbio

2017 NFL Scouting Combine: Quite the experience

2017 NFL Scouting Combine: Quite the experience

By Chami L. Hughes

Special to Pro Football Guru

The NFL Scouting Combine has been held in Indianapolis since 1987, but it has always been off limits to the fans. This year, 30 years after moving to Circle City, that changed. The Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis played host to the NFL Combine Experience from March 2-5. They created a very unique family-friendly interactive experience for the fans…and all free.

Fans were able to experience several of the drills used for testing during the Combine as though they were among the athletes invited to participate this year; Vertical jump, 40-yard dash, the Gauntlet, an obstacle course, 3-cone drill, and broad jump. This allowed fans to see just how physically demanding the game of football is, in case they ever had a doubt.

If that wasn’t enough for anyone, move on to the NFL Virtual Reality Experience for a little more insight on what it is like on the field or head over to the autograph stage to talk to a few players like Dallas Clark and current Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard. Go ahead, snap a selfie! They loved it just as much as we did. Want more photo opps? Head over to the Lombardi Trophy or to the NFL Draft Stage. Check out a few Super Bowl rings up close before you go. As you make your way around the many displays, be sure to take a look around you. You’re surrounded by mannequins adorning several of the college uniforms as well as mannequins for all 32 NFL teams which are designed for you to stand in and become a player on your favorite team.

Another unique opportunity the fans are provided with is the Bench Press. For three hours, the fans cheered on the prospects as they compete on the bench press. At the Combine Media Center, you could get a behind-the-scenes look at the press conferences and media interviews. Every place you look, there’s something going on. It is well worth the time to attend, but be sure to arrive early and spend the day so you can truly take it all in.

I can honestly say that I am anxiously awaiting the return of the NFL Combine Experience in 2018 and you can bet I’ll be at the front of the line to get in!

Now in addition to this, a select few fans were part of a group that was able to attend the Scouting Combine live inside Lucas Oil Stadium each day. I was lucky enough to be a part of the group that attended the viewing of the defensive line and linebackers workouts on Sunday. After arriving at Lucas Oil for check-in and receiving our admittance wristbands, we were informed that we were VIP guests and escorted to a VIP room where we were able to relax and enjoy a full breakfast buffet before heading to our stadium seats.

During this time we were honored to listen to 3 former NFL players speak and tell their stories: Donovin Darius, Leonard Wheeler and Mike Rucker. This was a truly amazing opportunity that will certainly never be forgotten. Once they finished their speeches and gave away a few autographed memorabilia items, we had what was expected of us explained and told how our small ear radios would work allowing us to hear everything from our seats. There was to be no noise, no distractions. We were not permitted to do any form of recording: Audio, video, photography; and could not even have our cell phones on or out once we reached our seats.

As this is a HUGE job interview for these young athletes and their livelihood possibly on the line, that was understandable and accepted. As we took our seats, it was silent. You could hear a pin drop in that enormous stadium. With every jump or every step a participant took, you heard their every breath and grunt. Watching these talented rising stars like Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers show their prowess on that field was an indescribable experience. Knowing on draft day that I was one of a select few that witnessed this day will bring on a whole new excitement as I see what the future holds for each athlete.

Good luck to the 2017 draft class!

Chami L. Hughes is a single mom with a dream of being a sports writer. She’s a lover of nearly all sports, however her passion is the NFL. She’s an avid fantasy football player (and multiple season champion). She considers herself to be more than a casual fan and football is in her blood. Follow her on Twitter at @Sapphire2Momma.

About Russell Baxter

Love the NFL? You can find me on NFL Spin Zone (FanSided), Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, TheBingBing, FriendLife and more. NFL consultant, historian analyst, lots of radio (Fox, CBS, NBC, etc.) and TV.

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Photo credit: Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America via Zimbio

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