This week, I’m going to try to answer a very difficult, but very popular, question that I get this time of year: If I’m an agent who doesn’t have a client working out, or I’m going to Indy to network as an aspiring NFL scout, when should I be there?
I should start by saying there’s no right answer to this. It all depends on your budget, your schedule flexibility, your willingness to “put yourself out there,” and why you’re going to Indy.
So when should you arrive and when should you depart? You may be one of those people who has a job or classes during the work week, and good on you if you do. However, if you don’t arrive until Friday night or Saturday, the week is pretty much over. Workouts start Thursday night, which means they’re pretty much over on Sunday. if you don’t arrive until the weekend, much of the hay is already in the barn. I recommend arriving Wednesday and leaving Friday or Saturday. Obviously, Wednesday of combine is a key part of our year at Inside the League, which we discuss weekly in our Friday Wrap (register for it here).
There’s another important point to be made. The NFL Combine is still a workplace for the league’s scouts and executives (as well as the players working out), so unless you are employed by an NFL team or are part of the media covering things, you are gonna feel left out. Indianapolis is a great place to hold the combine, but it’s a cold-weather city in March, so everything takes place indoors, unlike at all-star games. You need a badge to get through the door most places you’ll want to be, but there are shortcuts to getting access if you know a few tricks.
I’m going to focus on two tracks: aspiring scout and aspiring agent.
- If your future is in player representation, you’re probably going to want to meet as many scouts as you can and maybe even catch the eye of a big firm that might hire you later.
- Unfortunately, there is no one hotel where agents tend to stay. All i can tell you is stay downtown if you can afford it. If you’re really budget-minded, stay near the airport (you can find places there for a fraction of the cost, though the Uber rides may balance things a little). I generally use the restaurants downtown as my “office” when I’m in Indy, and you can, too. i recommend this place. It’s centrally located and has really big booths.
- More bad news: The NFLPA no longer holds its all-agents meeting during combine. instead it’s held online the week before. So there’s no central location for contract advisors.
- If you’re looking for a place to stake out, the halls and corridors of the Indiana Convention Center are probably a good place to start during the day. It’s kinda like the “highway” of downtown Indy. Lots of vendors set up here for that reason. In the evenings, you’re looking at the Yard House, Harry & Izzy’s, Prime 47 and, of course, St. Elmo’s.
- If you want to be hired as a scout, you’ll need to be around scouts. One place to catch them is the Starbucks at the JW Marriott downtown. You’ll want to be there quite early; there’s actually been a whole story written about this in The Athletic. The key is patience and deference to the people you meet. If you’re too solicitous, you’re just going to make people angry.
- The JW has probably replaced The Omni as the best networking location in Indianapolis. The NFL buys out the entire hotel (or at least most of it), and most NFL teams hunker down there. Where scouts are, agents (and everyone else) tend to be.
- The hotel bar, Velocity, is also a popular place for scouts who want to catch a late beverage.