It’s Christmas in the middle of spring for America. Football is the most popular sport in the U.S., and aside from the Super Bowl, the NFL draft is its most popular event. The draft is a spectacle to behold for a multitude of reasons including player interviews, fans’ passion and theatrical display.
First, the buildup to the NFL draft is like none other in the sporting world. Every year you have the debate over who should be chosen No. 1 overall. This conversation is generally centered around the quarterback position. This year, the debate was about which one of the top four quarterbacks should be selected number one by the Cleveland Browns. In the end, it was Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma who went first overall — a shocker to many, because Sam Darnold out of the University of Southern California seemed to be the consensus No. 1 pick to NFL personnel around the league. Darnold ended up going third overall to the New York Jets.
Prospects who enter the draft are scouted heavily for two straight months — NFL teams want to know everything about a player before they draft them. Every time you turn on the television breaking news as been discovered that will either help or harm a prospect’s draft stock. Scouts not only want to know what you can do on the field, but what type of person are you off the field. During the interview process NFL teams ask very personal questions
According to reports, prospect Derrius Guice out of Louisiana State University said he was asked highly controversial and insensitive questions during the interview process.
“I go in one room, and a team will ask me do I like men, just to see my reaction,” Guice said. “I go in another room and they ask, ‘Hey, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?’”
Teams may probe too far into players personal lives behind closed doors, but the passion of NFL fans is what drives the draft — fans’ hopes and aspirations for the future of their teams lay within the process. Supporters believe the players their team selects can lead to championships in the future.
No matter how bad their team was the previous year, fans are optimistic that the draft can solve their team’s problems. For example, the Browns didn’t win a single game last season. But since they had the first and fourth pick in this year’s draft, Browns fan believe this was their year to finally turn things around.
Houston Texans’ superstar defensive end J.J. Watt tweeted out praise to NFL fans’ enthusiasm for the event.
“You gotta love NFL fans. There are thousands of people in a stadium right now to watch a guy read a name off of a piece of paper,” Watt wrote. “That’s crazy!! Much love to all the crazy, passionate, loyal fans out there.”
Location, Location, Location. Where the draft is held each year is a major factor in why the draft is so exciting. The NFL draft has been held in eight different cities since it first started in 1936, the most drafts being held in New York City. For the first time this year the NFL draft was held in Dallas, Texas, in AT&T Stadium, aka Jerry World. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ stadium is nicknamed Jerry World because it cost the business tycoon $1.15 billion to build and is considered the pinnacle of modern sports architecture with a staggering capacity of 100,000 spectators. The 2018 draft was held inside the stadium right on the football field where the Dallas Cowboys play each and every Sunday.
What makes the draft truly special is the individual stories of each and every player who is eligible to be drafted Thursday through Saturday. Every year there is one player who beats the odds to be in the position to get drafted. This year that was Shaquem Griffin from the University of Central Florida. What makes Griffin’s story so unique is that he only has one hand. After amputating his left hand at the age of four due to amniotic band syndrome he went on to be very successful in college at UCF. The Seattle Seahawks drafted him in the fifth round on Saturday so he could go on to play with his twin brother Shaquill Griffin.
Every year the NFL draft brings about a lot of emotions; fear that your team will draft a bust and waste a pick on a no good player, optimism that one player selected on those three days could change your whole franchises future, and pure joy of knowing the draft just gets all NFL fans one step close to the first game of the season.
The NFL draft is a win for all — a win for the fans, the teams selecting their next generations and the players who finally get to live out their life long dreams.
Nile McNair, Contributing Writer