The annual NFL Draft is pretty much a national holiday for football fans and the 2013 entry will be no different.
The draft has changed over the years. It used to be a million rounds and wasn’t televised. But as as the popularity of the sport grew, so did the the popularity of the annual selection event. The first ever draft happened in 1936 at the Ritz-Carleton in Philadelphia. It wasn’t until 1980 that ESPN first asked the NFL if they could broadcast the event, which took place during the week. In 1988, the draft moved to the weekend and in 2010, the NFL turned it into a three-day event.
The first round will take place live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Thursday, April 25th. Fans line up outside of Radio City, usually the night before, in order to secure free tickets to attend the following day’s festivities. When Thursday arrives, fans pack into the balconies at Radio City. A few lucky ones also get seats on the floor in the back of the theater.
The lobby of Radio City is very grand. It has two large, impressive looking staircases and the room has a carnival-type atmosphere. Beer and snacks are sold and there are usually a few stations set up by corporate sponsors. The NFL often deploys cheerleaders to walk around and take pictures with fans. One lucky Arrowhead Addict reporter took advantage of this photo-opp back in 2010.
Outside, the NFL literally rolls out the red carpet for former NFL players, the players attending that are expected to be drafted early and some minor celebrities.
The media lines up and snags interviews with any and all as they pass on their way into the event. I managed to speak briefly with Eric Berry moments before the Chiefs selected him.
In the back of the auditorium, just in front of the overhanging balcony, are the stages for both NFL Network and ESPN. Each stage is positioned on either side of the aisle and the hosts are subject to absolutely brutal heckling from the drunken fans packed into the seats just above them. There are frequent comments about John Gruden’s hair.
The rest of the media sits in front of the ESPN and NFL Network stages in rows of seats with internet access. Media takes up most of the center of the auditorium before giving way to the representatives from each NFL team.
NFL GMs and coaches don’t actually go to Radio City. The team personell will actually be tucked away in their respective “War Rooms” usually located at their stadiums or practice facilities. When the Chiefs are ready to make their pick, GM John Dorsey will pick up the phone and call his two representatives in NYC.
Seated at one of the tables directly in front of the stage will be two representatives from the Chiefs. They usually have really cool Kansas City Chiefs desk chairs and a jar of red and yellow M & Ms on their table, along with Chiefs themed headsets. And a phone, of course.
When the Chiefs are on the clock, NFL representatives will come over and stand next to the Chiefs’ table. The KC staff in-house will anxiously wait for the phone to ring. When it does, the rep picks up and the GM tells him the pick. He writes it down on a card and hands it to the NFL rep standing at the table. If the team does not hand over the card before the allotted time runs out, the next team is placed on the clock and the Chiefs will continue to be skipped until they turn in their card.
Meanwhile, at Arrowhead, season ticket holders pack into the stadium for the annual draft day party. AA game correspondent Randy Murawski is on hand, usually spending his time hanging out with the Chiefs cheerleaders, cause that is just how he rolls.
Once the pick has been made, the NFL reps take the card up to the stage and hand it to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is standing in the wings. Goodell likely gets coached quickly on the proper way to pronounce the player’s name and then he heads out to the podium in the center of the stage, usually to very loud booing because that is just how New Yorkers do things.
Once the boos have died down, the commish announces the pick. If it is a pick by the Jets, there is usually a lot more booing. Every once in a while, a Jets fan throws himself from the balcony.
After the pick is read, the player, if he is there, comes out of the greenroom and onto stage. The player is given the official NFL draft cap to put on. He is also given a jersey with his name on it. The NFL actually has a machine back stage where they can quickly press the players name onto the back of the jersey in the time it takes them to get from the greenroom to the stage. Thus we get the iconic shot of the player holding up his new jersey.
After posing for some photos with “Uncle Roger” the players are escorted downstairs for their post-draft press conference. Media members that want to cover the interview hustle downstairs to a room that has been set aside for the pressers. There are a number of camera men set up. The rookies talk for about ten minutes or so and then are available for standup interviews afterward.
Media them returns to their places in the auditorium to continue watching the draft. Usually about half an hour after the press conference, the NFL distributes transcripts of the press conferences from downstairs.
Once the day is over, the NFL announces the time it took to complete the round or rounds. Media members finish up their work and head home to rest (or keep working) before returning for the next day.
Back at Arrowhead, the Chiefs’ brass will finish up their work and then head down to the press room to meet with the local KC media. This year, Reid and Dorsey will meet with the media at approximately 10:30 p.m. central time, after the first round.
On Friday afternoon, the Chiefs will introduce their first-round draft pick at Arrowhead at about 1:00 p.m. central.
Day two is on Friday and comprises rounds two and three. Right now the Chiefs have no second-round pick but they do have two third-rounders; one regular and one compensatory. John Dorsey will address the local media around 10:15 p.m. central following day two.
On Saturday, rounds four through seven will take place. By them most of the media has bailed from Radio City because there aren’t any players left to interview, though some still show up and stick it out to the bitter end. Fan attendance also dwindles as each day passes.
After the seventh round, Dorsey will once again address the KC media before heading off to try to sign some undrafted free agents that the team would like to bring to training camp.
We’ll be covering the draft for you every step of the way. I’ll be live at Radio City and we will have more updates than you will be able to keep up with on AA. Be sure to stop by for each round and chat with us in the live thread.