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Sacco Sez: The big picture at the Combine

We have come a long way since I was a youth on the farm and thought a combine was just an enormous farming tool.

We now know that the other Combine is also enormous, definitely, but more generally identified as the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

We are in the midst of a one-week talent show, a demonstration of abilities by some of the greatest college athletes in America.

The players are competing in physical drills and going through interviews and mental gymnastics for coaches, scouts and virtually all player personnel from all 32 NFL teams.

But one of the reasons we know all this, once again, is through the magic of television.

Pro football is the most popular viewing sport in American history, and nothing marries pro football to its success like television.

Back before 1982, teams had to make appointments to do individual drills and interviews with the players.

But that year, in 1982, the Combine began. At the time, there were virtually no media members present.

But it grew, like every great idea in America, and television soon picked up the scent.

Now the invitation-only Combine is broadcast on NFL Network and, this year, on ABC, which will air a two-hour special produced by ESPN that will also feature action from quarterback and wide-receiver workouts. The coverage is not quite 24 hours a day, but it sure seems like it.

And that is a good thing for football fans.

Take a look through photos of Broncos players performing drills at NFL Scouting Combines from recent history.

The Combine was first televised in 2004 and with extensive coverage from NFL Network, ESPN and so many other media outlets, the entire week has something of a mini-Super Bowl feel.

The number of journalists coming to the Combine has increased by the hundreds since the it first began, and for fans following the game and wondering who their favorite teams will select, more coverage has been essential.

Once again, we see that the big picture provided by the media and by television in particular put us front and center for all the action.

After all, everyone gets to be Mel Kiper Jr., without needing to see a hair stylist!

Gone are the days when BLESTO, an early scouting organization, was a mystery to most fans.

It was Tex Schramm of the Dallas Cowboys who first suggested to the NFL's competition committee that the league should have a national evaluation hub, and that was clearly a great idea, just as the NFL Network's idea to bring it live to the American sports public was.

Some marriages are perfect, and the Combine once again shows that football and television provide the sports version of a perfect union.

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