Sitting at dinner on Wednesday night with legendary NFL writer Charean Williams, I asked her how long she'd been coming to the NFL Combine.
"Started in 1995. Ki-Jana Carter was the first pick of that draft" she noted.
GM Rick Smith, head coach Bill O'Brien and numerous NFL hopefuls met with the media Thursday at the Combine.
"How many media members were there?" I queried.
"Oh, about 40 to 50."
Man, have times changed and 1995 doesn't seem all that long ago. Heck, I was a working adult at that time. Let me put this in perspective...on Thursday, I sat down alongside Houston Texans media guru Deepi Sidhu to listen to Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota speak to the assembled media. There were maybe two times or three times as many media members listening to Mariota than attended back in 1995. Florida State's Jameis Winston will speak to the media on Friday and there may be even more then.
There were approximately 1,000 credentials issued for media this week. There are three separate podiums set up in the press room for star players, general managers and head coaches. There are rows upon rows upon rows of tables with media members writing stories and cranking out audio/video magic inside the East Club.
There is a radio row outside the press room with 14 different NFL teams represented, Sirius XM and a few local Indianapolis stations. There are four different sports network TV setups, with the massive ESPN set in the far corner. That doesn't even count the NFL Network set that is in the club section of the end zone in Lucas Oil Stadium and it looks like it's straight out of a Hollywood set building design class.
I don't imagine it'll be too long before this event is open to fans and it'll be just as well attended; I can promise you that. I've been a huge follower of the Combine for so long that I've seen the change in the magnitude of the event from afar. This weekend, I actually got to experience it up close and personal. Some bristle at the growth of the event, but long time attendees like Williams are just amazed at what it's become from what it used to be.
I'm just glad to finally be here.
Now, if we can just do something about today's -15 wind chill...