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Sports Then and Now

NFL Draft Is Fulfillment of A Dream For New Pros

Posted on April 24, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Pittsburgh Steelers fan Zachary Hatfield got to fulfill a dream by announcing the first round draft pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers fan Zachary Hatfield got to fulfill a dream by announcing the first round pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I will admit that when I heard that the NFL Draft was going to three days and moving to prime time I rolled my eyes and thought they had really jumped the shark. However, after watching most of the “action” over the last two days, I now realize that rather than reaching a point of over-exposure, the NFL has turned an already great event into something even better.

When it was first shown on Sunday afternoons and then moved to Saturday, the NFL Draft on ESPN was always interesting to see some of the inner-workings of the NFL. Even though no team technically won or lost during the draft, over the years it developed over a “must see” event for football fans.

However, by the middle of the last decade, the first round had gone from being exciting to being excruciating. With each team usually taking their 15-minute allotment, the first round dragged on for between five and six hours and even the most loyal fans had a hard time staying engaged for the entire first round.

As they generally do, the NFL and ESPN recognized what they needed to do to make their prize event even better and a couple years ago reduced the time between picks and made the draft a two day event. That helped speed up the first round and make many wives across the country football widows for an entire weekend in April.

By moving to a three-day event starting on Thursday night, the NFL has made the event even more of a spectacle.

While the first round on Thursday was exciting, fast paced and full of interesting maneuvers, I actually enjoyed the second round better for a number of reasons.

Traditionally, the NFL has invited the players they expected to get picked among the first dozen picks to travel to New York to bask in the glory of their special moment.

Past drafts have included great drama as players who surprisingly slipped further down in the draft order sat in the waiting area pondering their future.

With the pace of the draft increased, the wait for players has been reduced, so even being picked in the 20s means a wait of two hours, compared to the four or five hours of the past.

By adding a day and having time between the first and second round, it allowed the NFL the opportunity this year to bring in some likely second round picks to also bask in the glory of being drafted. To watch commissioner Roger Goodell give each player a big bear hug and make sure they appreciated their special moment on the Radio City Music Hall Stage was really neat to watch.

I have also enjoyed that the NFL has removed some of the formality by bringing in some current and former NFL players, including the 2010 Hall of Fame class, to announce some of the selections. It was also pretty neat during round one to see a young Steelers fan announce their selection as part of the make a Wish foundation.

In this time when millionaire players and billionaire players are fighting over how to split multi-billions of dollars, it is sometimes easy to forget that football is still just a game and to these young men coming out of college, getting drafted is a special moment that is the culmination of years of work and dreaming.

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