In a hotel room in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1936, the few teams that comprised the National Football League in those days were gathered to hold what would become the first-ever draft of collegiate players.
A grand total of 81 players were selected that day but only 24 would go on to actually play in the NFL. As amazing as this will sound, most collegians were more interested in pursuing further academia and starting their lives in the occupations they were in school to prepare for.
Flash forward to 2015 and we have ourselves a three-day event that will be televised from the first selection to the very last. There will be great picks and there will be “reaches.” There will be teams with draft grades of “A” and some with “D.” These grades are of course are about as asinine as they get because these players haven’t even laced up a cleat yet but hey, who am I to get in the way of entertainment and hyperbole?
It shouldn’t surprise us that the National Football League would capitalize on the draft’s growing popularity. No professional sport in America, or the world for that matter does better at marketing itself. It used to be that the NFL was about five to six months long. Now, it’s not a stretch to suggest the League is in fact a 365-day a year operation and the draft has become just one part of that.
There used to be a joke in places like Cleveland or Detroit for example that as soon as those teams lost a game their fans would already start thinking about the next season’s draft. Today, every fan base, whether their team is winning or not is always guilty of keeping an eye on the players who will be available.
It’s hard not to after all considering the amount college football on television these days. It’s also hard to avoid draft talk if you are on social media as well. There are so many “draft experts” on Twitter, Facebook, etc. that discussing the draft is impossible so all we can do is just grit our teeth and hope that April gets here.
But then there’s another problem…
Because of the popularity of the draft, the NFL has been able to pretty much dictate when it’s going to be held. Last year it moved into May and this year at has moved altogether. For the first time during the common era of the draft, it will be held outside of New York City. The Windy City of Chicago will host this year’s draft and hey! Great news! It starts on April 30th!!!
Yes, the draft is still in April but does it matter? The NFL could host the draft at midnight eastern and it would still pull in big ratings. With the growing popularity of the combine in February and the new fad of showing pro days on television, the draft really has become a must-see event.
Consider that it’s now held on two different networks at the same time and you’ve got yourself a bona fide hit when it comes to the sports world. I admit, I enjoy the draft. I know what these young men have gone through to get where they are. It’s a special time for them and for fans who could see their teams’ fortunes change with just one selection.
I just wish it would get here already because I’m tired of hearing about it!