Posted by Andy Benoit
INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s Day 1 for media at the combine. The scene in Indy is similar to the one in Dallas, only less glitz and glamor and more nuts and bolts. Only the true football media covers the event, which makes for purer networking opportunities. That seems to be the name of the game for the combine: networking. The press is not allowed to view the workouts in the flesh. Everyone is stationed in the media center, which is located near the East entrance of Lucas Oil Stadium.
Coaches and GM’s are scheduled to cycle through the media center and talk to the press throughout the entire day On the slate today is Chan Gailey at 10:00, Steve Spagnuolo at 10:15, Ron Rivera at 10:30, Jeff Ireland at 10:45, John Fox at 11:00 ... you get the idea.
The experienced writers here will tell you that the best time to get to people is after hours. All of the hotels in Indy are within a few blocks of the stadium and convention center. Some coaches and front office execs like to go out and mingle in the late (LATE) hours.
Last night I chatted with a few sportswriters in the lobby of the Westin. During that hour there, Andy Reid and Mike Tomlin walked in, Rich McKay showed up, John Harbaugh mingled for a few minutes, Mike Holmgren (who is much taller than you’d ever guess) strolled by, Rams GM Billy Devaney stopped to say hello and new Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (who looks like a carbon copy of Lane Kiffin) checked in. Around 9:00, walking out of St. Elmo’s Steakhouse (a legendary local hotspot), I bumped into Norv Turner.
The combine schedule is not super structured like the Super Bowl schedule (the coach and GM press conference times are written on a whiteboard at the beginning of the day). Ask any writer their gameplan for this week and the answer is always something along the lines of, “Dunno for sure yet, have a few story ideas lined up but I’ll mostly just be running around with my tape recorder all day.”
P.S. Lucas Oil Field, at least from the outside, is a magnificent building – far more attractive than Cowboys Stadium. And the Indianapolis downtown consists of three things: hotels, sports bars and steakhouses. It’s unbelievable.
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