NFL Draft May Leave New York
HOST INTRO: The three-day NFL Draft kicked off last night. Team managers signed the best college football players who proudly displayed their new jerseys for the crowds at Radio City Music Hall.
Hilary Brueck reports the draft has morphed into an event that may even be outgrowing New York City.
BRUECK: What started decades ago as a gathering of general managers scrawling names on a chalkboard is now a red carpet star-studded event. There’s even a new movie about it:
DRAFT DAY: Let’s get busy. Draft day. History in the making. Two hundred twenty four young men are about to become players in the National Football League.
At Radio City last night, 32 young players, college sophomores, juniors and seniors, showed up in their evening finery for a new job: pro football player. Like the number one pick, drafted by the Houston Texans.
RED CARPET ANNOUNCER: “Jadeveon Clowney.”
But the draft hasn’t always been such a show. What began as a sequence of business deals among managers has become the most important moment in any pro football player’s career. That’s what football author Michael MacCambridge says:
MacCambridge: The idea to bring players to New York, bring them out, introduce them in front of the crowd at Radio City, that moment itself, the simple act of being introduced, is part of the dreams of a lot of aspiring football players.
MacCambridge says the event has helped fans deal with a common problem. Which he describes as that…
MacCambridge: almost manic thirst for information on the part of football fans during the off-season.
Winston Hatta was at the front of the line to get in to the draft Friday afternoon. Wearing a green and white Jets jersey, he was chatting with other fans from as far away as Jacksonville and Texas.
HATTA: It’s amazing. There’s not very many sporting events where you’re going to have fans from different teams gather together. You go to a game, there’s usually two sides.
As the draft got underway inside Radio City, across the street in a bar on 51st, I met some Vikings fans from my home state of Minnesota.
BRUECK: “You’re from Minnesota? I’m from Minnesota!”
Miguel Delgado was wearing a purple and gold jersey that read: “hashtag-M-N-ziel.” He was hoping for Minnesota to score top quarterback Johnny Manziel,
But they didn’t.
Instead, the team chose Anthony Barr, a lesser-known linebacker from UCLA. But that’s what happens at the draft. Among the rainbow of jersey colors dotting sidewalks and bar windows in Midtown, someone’s going home disappointed.
Mac Cambridge says although the draft would do well anywhere, there’s something unique about having the draft in the center of New York City. That may be in jeopardy, ever since Radio City had to delay this year’s draft two weeks because of a scheduling conflict.
MacCambridge “As we saw on the telecast, you have dozens and dozens of fans from literally every NFL team that show up. I’m not sure you would get that in a Pittsburg or Detroit or somewhere else.”
After fifty years in New York City, the NFL commissioner said on Twitter he’s “looking at other options,” for 2015. Last night, the first round on TV faired better than ever: ESPN’s ratings doubled. Which means here in New York, they’re still rolling out the red carpet tonight for another round of picks.
Hilary Brueck, Columbia Radio News.