The 2011 NFL Combine was viewed by a record 6.6 million people. This astounding number trumped last year's mark of 5.2 million viewers by 1.4 million people. That is hard to fathom when last year's number was already more viewers than the total for all of the baseball telecasts on ESPN during a week's time. It speaks to just how popular the NFL is, which is why it's a shame there is currently a lockout.
Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith brought up a very good point in his post about this news: the NFL never really has an offseason when you think about it. Sure, football isn't played from January to mid-August for some teams and from February to mid-August for others, but in between there is the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, NFL Combine, free agency (in past years) and the NFL Draft. All of that stuff occupies the minds of football fans from the end of the regular season to the end of April. In May and June, there are OTAs and minicamps, and before you know it training camp arrives in July.
While there is an offseason in the sense that football isn't played year-around, there is always something seemingly going on in the NFL world. What's more, fans are always interested in that something, as the ratings from the NFL Combine show.