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Covering the NFL Combine not exactly glamorous

It’s often sad when you learn things aren’t nearly as great as you thought them to be. LeBron James still has no championship ring on his finger and “Two and Half Men” without Charlie still sucks. I also learned last evening that covering the National Football League Combine is no day in the park either.

On our Blitzburgh Radio podcast last night Matt and I were joined by journalist Jim Wexell who was kind enough to come on with us after spending several days in Indianapolis covering the combine in what can only be described as All-Access ‘lite’.

First, Jim told us that media members are not allowed to be inside the stadium were the football players are doing their drills. This is for coaches, scouts, front office personnel etc. Journalists like him were subjected to small rooms with four or five other writers who would sit and wait for future NFL’ers to come through for a few questions.

Thankfully for Jim and the writers, there were sandwiches provided. At this point I’m picturing some type of medieval dungeon where the scribes are put in the stocks and only get one question each. From Jim’s recanting of the situation I learned quite a bit about some of little things we fans need to know about the combine.

It was announced quite loudly this week that University of Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead had told pool reporters at the combine that the Pittsburgh Steelers had shown great interest in him. Of course so had several other teams, but when asked about the Steelers, Pead seemed to glow just a bit brighter.

Another guy that is believed to be on the Steelers radar is Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower who also said the Steelers were showing interest in him…. As were as many as 20 other teams.

What is the lesson to learn here? Simply that each and every prospect is under a microscope and when that bright light hits them they are in awe and why shouldn’t they be? 32 NFL teams are fawning over them like a teenager would in front of Katy Perry. These young men are thrilled to be getting the attention and I guarantee they look just as excited in a room with Bears’ journalists as they do in a room full of Browns’ journalists. OK, so maybe not the Browns but you get the point.

Jim was also kind enough to let us know that the players themselves are not necessarily the best source for information. It was outside these dungeons, errrr, rooms that Jim and many other writers would strike gold. This is where the player agents hung out waiting for their guys to emerge. If you’ve ever met an agent that didn’t want to talk up his guy then I have gas for under a dollar-a-gallon to sell you.

Not surprisingly, I learned that the players themselves tended to open up a bit more when exiting the room or when they were isolated from the crowd. Any type of ‘in’ a reporter could use to get a comment or authentic thought would be used. Not only are these guys trained and conditioned in what to do ‘on’ the field, but also ‘off’ the field as well.

I guess I should be thankful that I didn’t have to drive to Indianapolis to sit in what amounted to a panic room like Jim did. His access to watching the players on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium was exactly the same I had. From my living room television where more than just a sandwich was allowed.

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