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Experiencing the NFL Draft in Person

(Photo by Christopher Hanewin

(Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel USA Today)

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee. As a die-hard sports fan, this has always been a dream of mine to attend the draft. The atmosphere was incredible, and here are my major takeaways from my experience in Music City. 

1. People Really, Really Don’t Like Roger Goodell

Look, I know this may be a universal truth at this point. However, you really don’t understand the hate for this man until you experience it firsthand. We hear him get booed loudly at every draft over the TV, but it was truly astonishing to witness him get booed by 200,000 thousand people during the first round on Thursday night.

Trust me when I say that video does absolutely no justice to just how loud the booing was. And it didn’t last just for the first few picks either. Oh no. Every. Single. Time Goodell appeared on the stage, a tidal wave of boos rained down from thousands of fans.

In fact, things only got worse as the night went on. Remember, the draft stage was literally on Broadway. There is at least 15 different bars within the length of two football fields from the podium where Goodell announced the picks. To put this clearly: The more that people drank, the more emotion they put into their boos.

I do not think it’s my place to decide if the man deserves that level of hatred. Personally, I do not like him just as much as the next guy, but I’m not totally sure that any normal person like him deserves to experience that. Either way, he is a grown man and he handled the night as well as he could have. Oh yea, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins basically tackling Goodell was one of the best moments of the first round. The commissioner’s reaction was great.

2. Nashville Should Host the Draft Every Year

In the last four years, the draft has been in four different locations: Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Nashville. While I’m sure the first three cities did a great job of hosting (Philly in particular), there is simply no way they can even begin to compare to the atmosphere in Nashville.

Believe it or not, I’m somewhere down in that huge mass of humanity having the absolute time of my life with thousands of other fans. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. You had famous media personalities giving their expert analysis in literal bars, on-air announcers could not hear each other talk due to the constant music blaring everywhere you turned, and Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean were literally on rooftops waving at people.

You are not going to find that kind of atmosphere any other place in the country, I guarantee it. I fully realize that the NFL likes to move the draft around the country so multiple cities can experience an economic spike. However, why on Earth you move away from a market this profitable?? Having the NFL in the true South where football is king is just common sense.

Fans proved their love for the game and there is no doubt that even NFL officials were surprised with the turnout considering it poured rain for the first hour and a half of the first round.

Keep the draft in Nashville for the next few years. The town showed it was a great host and that it’s truly one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.

3. Pat McAfee Won the Draft

If you don’t know who Pat McAfee is, well, now you do. The former Colts punter is a famous social media personality due to his hysterical analysis of specific sports plays. He is so funny that he has even been able to announce a few games himself.

Of course, the NFL wisely selected him to announce one of Indianapolis’ draft picks, and as you saw above he did not disappoint. What you did not see however was the crowd’s reaction. This was pretty late into the third round so many fans were beginning to leave. Once they heard McAfee everyone literally stopped dead in their tracks and watched McAfee.

The man just oozes charisma. He has pitch-perfect comedic timing and his analysis is always excellent. People literally were standing in the middle of the street smiling as they watched him announce the pick. I know this probably is not realistic, but this is the guy who should be replacing Jason Witten (who was terrible) on Monday Night Football. People will love this man and ratings will go up. Its incredibly unlikely, but one can dream.

4. The “Bachelorette Situation” Was Hysterical to Witness

By now, I’m sure that you have seen these two women all over social media. In case you didn’t already know this, Nashville is the bachelorette party capital of this country. Trust me when I say this: Those two were not the only women incredibly ticked off in Nashville this weekend.

There were dozens of different bachelorette groups that I saw on Broadway during Thursday and Friday night’s portion of the draft. Of course, I did not spot a single person out of these people who was having a good time. They actually put a bit of damper on the atmosphere on Broadway

Do I feel bad for these women who wanted to have one of the best nights of their lives, and instead they had to put up with thousands of people in every bar? The answer is of course no. Be a better bridesmaid/maid of honor and actually do your research on what’s going on in the place you are having the party at. Common sense is rare these days, but I mean come on ladies. Be better.

You just really hate to see it.

5. Every NFL Fan Should Attend At Least One Draft

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

My biggest and most important takeaway from this experience is that if you are a big fan of a specific team, then you need to go to at least one NFL Draft in your lifetime. I am personally a fan of the Oakland Raiders (I know, life is rough right now) and I wore my Raiders t-shirt basically all weekend long.

What is so awesome about the draft is that every team has hundreds of fans there supporting their squad. Literally any time I passed a Raiders fan, they always gave me a fist-pump and yelled “Raider Nation!!!” Likewise, I had a friend with me who was a Cincinnati Bengals fan (haha) and every time we came across a fellow Bengals fan they always yelled “WHO DEY??”

Is there something kind of cult-like about all of this? Yes, but all jokes aside its awesome to see strangers who share a common interest treat each other excellently. For example, my group was right beside a bunch of Denver Broncos fans right before they traded the No. 10 pick. We had a 10-minute long conversation withe them about what John Elway should do with the pick and the direction of the franchise. It was refreshing to meet strangers who were not complete jerks.

It’s the little moments like that which will make my experience that much more memorable. One of the main purposes of sports is to bring people together and that’s exactly the opportunity the NFL Draft provides its fans every year. The league may have several problems, but the draft is not one of them. If you are a fan of the NFL, I only hope that you may one day have the same experience that I was fortunate enough to experience.


Article written by John Reecer

1 Comment for Experiencing the NFL Draft in Person

  1. brainesman
    6:42 pm April 28, 2019 Permalink

    Since you’re a Raiders fan, you’re probably in one of only a couple of fanbases who has no standing to laugh at Bengals fans. Your owner has a red bowl cut, drives a 90’s minivan, and goes to PF Chang’s everyday. Ours is just super cheap.