Combine First-Timer, Day 7: The future begins

2014-02-25 17:19:17

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis stood in front of me in the check out line. The hotel clerk repeated his charges to him. He ordered room service. So did I.


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After he left I checked out, then walked over to Starbucks and once again, he was in front of me in line. Coincidence? Well, the entire week was filled with these types of encounters. You'll see Joe Philbin in the elevator, Deion Sanders on the couch, Michael Sam in the walkway or the Harbaugh Brothers in the stands.


There are a cluster of hotels in downtown Indianapolis that housed players, personnel and media members during the combine. And it was only a matter of random chance regarding who you bumped into,  stood in line with or dined near.


Indianapolis turned into the center of the NFL universe this past week. And it was a blast simply being a comet flying across it all.


While tracking through the walkway to Lucas Field for the last day of the combine, another convention was just starting up. The Pumper and Cleaner Environmental Expo had begun registering people. It was dubbed the "the largest annual event in the world of liquid waste industry."


Of the many booths showcasing the latest in septic and waste management technology, the one that struck my fancy was the Rolls Royce of port-a-potties.


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Defensive backs had their drills on Tuesday and it was fitting that Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden made an appearance on NFL Network. Haden was a great example of a guy who didn't do well at his combine, but still ended up making a stellar career in the NFL. Haden was drafted seventh overall in 2010. Yet, during his combine there was one event he would still like to repeat again.


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Deion Sanders was on the field providing analysis. In the stands, coaches still lingered. In one stand in particular you could see plenty of coaches watching the prospects studiously.




While on the field you were always afraid of getting in the way of a drill, getting caught on camera or being hit in the face with a flying football. This was a job interview for these guys and you simply wanted to blend into the scenery and let them do their thing.


As the day drifted on, the significance of the combine began to dawn on me. These were young men on the brink of starting out an adventure that would change their lives. I never had a job interview of this scope, but I could empathize with these players and the joy and fear they were facing. No more drills. No more tests. No more interviews. It was the start of an adventure of a lifetime.


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Even on the plane ride back the remnants of the combine still lingered. In front of me sat Maurice Alexander, a strong safety from Utah State, who participated in the combine. The dude was so big that when he moved his seat back I barely had room to write on my laptop. I briefly asked him about the combine and he said it went well. I could tell he was tired.


But also sitting next to me was a mother named Eevet and her six-year-old son named Austin. Austin's favorite player is Peyton Manning. He wants to be a quarterback when he grows up. According to his mom he throws the ball well and he's accurate. He might be at the combine in 2029. The future awaits.




Day 7 - The Future Begins

Day 6 - Clowney, Sam and jammed doors

Day 5 - Run, Amar, Run

Day 4 - Stalking Harbaughs

Day 3 - Here's, Johnny!

Day 2 - Waiting for Garrett

Day 1 - And so it begins...