Skip to main content
Carolina Panthers

Strickly Panthers: Combine also a workout for media


INDIANAPOLIS - There's a whole lot of running around at the NFL Scouting Combine, something even a rookie like myself could anticipate given all the pre-combine chatter involving 40-yard dash times and the like.

I just didn't count on being among those running around.

Most media types do their share of sitting. In some ways, that's the nature of the job. I wouldn't recommend trying to type an article in any other body position, nor would I recommend attempting to cover a game while standing (those behind you wouldn't take it too kindly).

In some cases, though, it's the nature of reporters to sit. After that interminable hike from the hotel to the arena or from the lunch line back to your computer, who wouldn't want to sit a spell?

The NFL Scouting Combine, however, keeps you on your feet.

About a year before my trip to Indianapolis for the combine, I ventured there to cover the Final Four. There are few things in sport that rival the event, but if you've covered a specific team all the way to the NCAA championship game, then you've spent about 11 or 12 hours watching their tournament games but significantly more time listening to press conferences.

It can become a grind, but it's a meticulously scheduled grind, with media availability planned down to the minute (and actually down to the second at times with media relations personnel using a countdown clock to track access time).

Compared to that, the NFL Scouting Combine is chaos - though it is the most organized chaos imaginable. The folks in Indy have it as much down to a science as much as is possible given the uncertainty they face.

Here's essentially how it works. For roughly eight hours each day for four consecutive days, reporters wait for nearly all of the 300-plus prospects participating in the combine to make their way to the media center for interviews. Four may show up at one time and must be quickly dispersed among the three podiums and eight round tables in play. Then no one might show up for the next 30 minutes.

It keeps the media on its toes, sometimes challenging those covering the event to figure out how to be in two or three places at the same time.

Thus, the inordinate amount of running around.

Because of this, the chairs arranged in rows near each podium remained largely empty throughout the event, with reporters choosing instead to stand, often near the speakers on either side of the podium so their recorders could gobble up every sound bite for regurgitation later.

That all changed, however, around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

As Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller finished his appearance at Podium B, I happened to turn and notice a strange sight compared to the rest of the week: People were sitting in chairs in front of Podium C.

My instincts told me that it could mean just one thing.

Cam Newton must be on his way.

Folks had been anticipating the arrival of the polarizing Heisman Trophy winner for more than 24 hours, so I was confident enough in my instincts that I grabbed a choice seat without even asking those nearby if this meant what I thought it meant.

A couple of minutes later, when the P.A. announced that an LSU linebacker was available at Podium B and no one around me moved, I was even more confident (poor Kelvin Sheppard). Then, when an official ascended the podium and belted out, "Mic check!" into the podium microphone for the first time in three days, I knew I was right.

Soon after, I turned and looked toward a wall that was blocking my view of the room's entrance and saw a television cameraman quickly backtracking with his camera light glowing. Newton, as I knew he would, emerged from behind the wall a second or two later.

For the next 13 or so minutes, Newton ruled the room. There's no way that all of the record 715 accredited media were gathered around Podium C, but it sure felt that way.

When Newton finished and descended the stage, the throng quickly dispersed, many like myself heading to their seats to start banging out the specifics of Newton's news conference.

I, however, didn't stay seated for long. Soon after, North Carolina linebacker Quan Sturdivant arrived at Podium C to a much smaller but still significant group of media. Back to the controlled chaos.

Beginning next week, I'll bring you many of the stories told by Newton, Sturdivant and countless others over the course of the combine, all leading up to the NFL Draft on April 28.

It might have taken a lot of running around to gather the information, but I invite you to sit back and enjoy the coverage at

Related Content