The NFL Combine: Its history, and how it has changed over the years (Part 1)

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


The combine has already started off with Bill Belichick answering questions in ways only he can answer...

Mike Florio of NBC Sports Pro Football Talk leaked reports that Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was nearly traded to the Browns for multiple draft picks earlier this year... This report sparked an ensuing twitter battle between Mike Florio and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network over the truth of the Jim Harbaugh news,

And lastly, there have even been a variety of press conferences given by Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Offensive Linemen and Wide Receivers who have been invited to the combine that you can find all over Seems like quite the whirlwind of events doesn't it, and they haven't even got into the meat and potatoes of it yet...

Well, how did we get here? Specifically, when did the NFL combine, an event originally meant to gather medical data on potential NFL prospects, turn into the spectacle it has become, and when did it come into existence? Well, I hit the internet and began searching away and felt some of the results were worthy of a fan post. I am going to separate the information I've found into three different posts so that you aren't overloaded in just one post.




The original idea for the NFL Combine originated from longtime Dallas Cowboys owner Tex Schramm. According to Gil Brandt, ex-General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys and now current NFL Network Analyst and Journalist, Schramm got the idea after University of Kansas quarterback Nolan Cromwell (who went on to become an all-pro safety for the Los Angeles Rams) arrived at the Cowboys headquarters in 1977 with at least a dozen X-rays given to him by his doctor. At that time, he was recovering from a knee injury. The Cowboys had no prior knowledge of Cromwell's injuries until he arrived with these X-rays. Schramm felt that teams all across the NFL were not getting adequate health information on prospects until teams had either heavily vetted a prospect in the pre-draft process or had drafted someone altogether. As head of the NFL's competition committee, Schramm proposed the league should create a centralized place for teams to come and review the health of draft prospects in the upcoming league year draft. As well as get official measurements of these prospects so every team would have the same data and information. In lieu of his proposition, the first "combine" was put together in 1982 when National Football Scouting Inc. put on the National Invitational Camp in Tampa, Florida. This inaugural camp was participated in by a total of 163 players and multiple NFL teams were in attendance.

Over the first three years of the National Invitational Camp (NIC), two other versions of its likeness were put on by sports performance companies in the United States at different times of the year. However, in 1985, all 28 NFL teams decided to merge together these three versions of the NIC to cut costs and streamline the approach. At this time, it was renamed the NFL Scouting Combine and become a yearly event paid for by all NFL teams as well as the NFL itself.

Over the years, the combine as a whole has changed in location and size, but its main purpose is still for NFL teams to gather medical and physical data on prospects. However, it now includes a variety of physical tests such as the bench press, 40 yard dash, vertical and broad jump, the three cone drill, the 20 and 60 yard shuttle, and many others. Most of these tests were not officially recorded by official scientific measurement until the 1990's. For example until 1999 the 40 yard dash had no official timing equipment and was done entirely by the stopwatches and eyes of NFL coaches. This has led to reports that Bo Jackson did his 40 yard dash at a time below 4.20 seconds, as well as varying reports of the times Deion Sanders recorded, ranging from 4.30 to sub 4.20 second times.

What comes next?

With all of this in mind, when did the combine become the highly televised and publicly shared event that we are now all too familiar with? Well, we will get into that over the next few days, (or when I am not boring my eyes out over research papers). I'm going to space out all the information I've gathered on it into a three part series. This was the first. The next will be on the media's involvement in the combine and how it has changed the way the event is viewed, and run.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Bolts From The Blue community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bolts From The Blue editors or SB Nation.

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