The National Football League conducts a combine to test college athletes in February, in advance of the April NFL draft of players. Athletes go through various speed and agility tests, but they don’t actually play football. Combine participants who can run faster, jump higher and lift more weights have greater potential to succeed in the NFL, but the combine can’t predict on-the-field football success. The NFL scouting combine has been called the “underwear Olympics” since at least 2009.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin called the Cowboys’ minicamps—where players practice without pads and without hitting—the “underwear Olympics” in May 1995. The “underwear Olympics” term had been popularly used for the Cowboys’ minicamps before its use to describe the NFL scouting combine.
A player who has great measurable qualities at the NFL scouting combine ("Underwear Olympics")—but who doesn’t necessarily translate that physical ability into on-the-field success—is nicknamed a “workout warrior.”
Wikipedia: NFL Scouting Combine
The NFL Scouting Combine, is a week-long showcase, occurring every February at Lucas Oil Stadium (and formerly at the RCA Dome until 2008) in Indianapolis, Indiana, where college football players perform physical and mental tests in front of National Football League coaches, general managers, and scouts. With increasing interest in the NFL Draft, the scouting combine has grown in scope and significance, allowing personnel directors to evaluate upcoming prospects in a standardized setting. Its origins have evolved from the National, BLESTO and Quadra Scouting organizations in 1977 to the media event it has become today.
Athletes attend by invitation only. Implications of one’s performance during the combine can affect perception, draft status, salary and ultimately career. The draft has popularized the term “workout warrior,” whereby an athlete’s “draft stock” is increased based on superior measurable qualities such as size, speed, and strength, despite having an average or sub-par college career.
7 May 1995, Fort Worth (TX) Star-Telegram, “Jim Reeves’ Insiders,” Sports, pg. 4:
Ah, the Cowboys’ latest “Underwear Olympics”—that’s what Michael Irvin calls minicamps—has ended.
12 July 2002, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “He’s reading for the part: Talented rookie receiver poring over playbook to learn his role” by Gerry Fraley:
Club officials marvel over his showing in the “Underwear Olympics,” which includes events such as vertical leap and shuttle run.
(Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Antonio Bryant - -ed.)
Friday, July 25, 2008
Interview: Dallas Cowboys radio announcer Brad Sham
by Scott Boyter of Sports Page Weekly
Brad Sham: (...) You don’t get the chance to see anybody hit each other in minicamps; you can only do so much in what they call “the underwear Olympics.” But in camp, you have to play football.
Merlin’s Magic: Silly Season Edition
Feb 25th, 2009 at 9:24 pm by merlin
With the start of the underwear Olympics in Indianapolis this weekend, the NFL has officially entered silly season. This is the time of year where the teams, media and fans start moving players up and down on the draft board for hundredths of a second on a 40 yard dash, a couple of dropped passes or a minor injury. Players work for months with trainers trying to shave hundredths of second from their times or bulk up to pump out a few more reps on the bench press. Silly, silly, silly. However, this is the game that is played. There is some good going in Indy, but there is quite a bit of silly. This is why you hear smart talent evaluators talk about ‘game speed’ and not 40 yard dash times.
March 08, 2010
Higher, faster, stronger is still the goal for prospects at the combine, but teams are no longer easily impressed
Gil Brandt, the 77-year-old godfather of the NFL scouting combine, took a look around Lucas Oil Stadium last Saturday and marveled at what he saw: a football operation in Indianapolis running as efficiently as a watch factory in Geneva. On the field one set of offensive linemen and tight ends was being put through speed and agility drills. In a weight room other players took turns bench-pressing 225 pounds. In the press room some of the 648 media representatives lobbed questions at USC defensive end Everson Griffen, while others pecked away at stories on players they had already interviewed.
The NFL Scouting Combine Is The Underwear Olympics
PFTV’s Mike Florio talks about the NFL Scouting Combine and calls it the ‘Underwear Olympics.’
Playing with Purpose:
By Mike Yorkey
Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Pub.
The process can be dehumanizing; some call the NFL Combine the “Underwear Olympics” and compare the physicals to being poked and prodded like steers on a hoof.
2013 NFL Draft: Combine Preview
By Nick Chiamardas on Feb 19, 12:00p
The NFL Human Cattle Show Scouting Combine/Underwear Olympics begins this Wednesday and runs through next Tuesday. Prospects plod out to Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis wearing workout gear that leaves nothing to the imagination and participate in a gamut of individual drills and workouts. All in the hopes of hearing their name called during the 2013 NFL Draft.