The same people who laughed at the notion of a 24-hour sports network and a 24-hour weather network would certainly laugh today at the robust business of scouting journalism and the broadcasts of both the NFL Draft and the NFL Combine.
But thanks to folks like Mel Kiper and ESPN and the NFL Network, which proved that the combine is actually a pretty compelling property, here we are.
I knew it was only a matter of time before a company came along to brand players at the combine. And it makes plenty of sense that this company will now be Under Armour.
The NFL Scouting Combine will now be officially presented by Under Armour and every player invited to the February event in Indianapolis will be wearing UA performance apparel.
In order to maximize the impressions for the broadcast on the NFL Network, there will be Under Armour signage throughout Lucas Oil Stadium as well as advertising on all league related platforms in its coverage of the event. Last year, the NFL Network provided 26 hours of coverage.
Sponsoring workouts has turned into a big business as Nike, through its teaming up with SPARQ, and Under Armour have battled it out in the training shoe category.
Under Armour has been sponsoring high school combines throughout the country and has signed top trainers, including LaDainian Tomlinson's trainer, Todd Durkin.
Additional value will be reaped by Under Armour as pictures from these events obviously will have the athlete associated with the Under Armour brand.
CNBC obtained a list of what will be in the players exclusive Under Armour performance package. Each invited player will receive: an “Armour Fleece” crew, “Armour Fleece” training pants, a "Metal" loose crew training shirt, a "Metal" loose sleeveless training shirt, a “Metal” loose training short, a “Metal” compression short sleeve, a “Metal” compression sleeveless, a "Metal" compression short, Generation II footwear performance trainers as well as heat gear leggings.
The training shoe category is about a $200 million business, according to Matt Powell, an analyst for SportsOneSource, a market retail tracking firm. Powell says, in the training shoe category, Nike currently has a 39 percent share (down from 58 percent a year ago), UA is at 29 percent and Brand Jordan has a 28 percent stake.
Said Powell: "We are talking about a small business. And it's getting harder to justify in this economy, that a kid who already has his cleats and school shoe needs a third shoe to train in."
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