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NFL expands fan access to Scouting Combine

NFL Combine - Day 5

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss participates in the vertical jump during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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As the NFL grows and the NFL looks for ways to expand fan engagement, a new opportunity is coming in 2017.

The league has announced the launch of the NFL Combine Experience, which will provide unprecedented access to the annual dog-and-pony show that has evolved around what primarily is an effort to get comprehensive medical information on incoming players.

Implicit in the press release is the notion that the Scouting Combine will have an official Media Center, separate and apart from the current collection of folding tables and portable TV desks that litter the hallway inside the doors to Lucas Oil Stadium. For the folks who cover the Scouting Combine, that will be a fairly significant change.

“Fans will have the opportunity to watch the Bench Press; access the Media Center to view press conferences and interviews with Combine prospects; and enjoy a free festival with interactive games, youth football clinics, player autograph sessions with NFL Legends, virtual reality sessions, and more,” the league’s statement explains.

Plenty of scouts will hate the change, in part because they generally hate change of any kind. The presence of fans will definitely be a potential distraction and intrusion; however, the entire operation continues to be a business, and business interests require maximizing the opportunities for exposure and revenue-generation presented by the Scouting Combine.

And if exposure and revenue-generation are possible at a time when nothing remotely resembling football is being played, the National Football League wins. Again.