Do you like the new three-day format the NFL will use for the draft later this month?
As you might expect, the new TV friendly format is drawing a mixed reaction. It seems NFL execs like it because it gives them added time to study and plan. Some fans feel cheated, since the traditional Saturday draft-day marathon TV viewing session/draft party is no more.
Me? I have mixed feelings. The fan in me understands the disappointment of those who enjoyed planning their weekend, or at least their Saturday, around the draft. The blogger in me loves it because it gives us more time to talk about and analyze whatever moves Giants General Manager Jerry Reese makes.
Here is some what seems to be the typical reaction from NFL decision-makers.
Stories in today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer and Florida Times-Union examined the new three-day 2010 NFL Draft format with the first round kicking off in prime time on Thursday, April 22 (7:30 PM ET on ESPN and NFL Network).
In the Plain Dealer, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (right) discussed draft strategy. “I think the second round will now be like the first round,” Belichick said. “Take those [top] 32 players out of there…now you’re starting all over again for that second round. And I can see it being approached more as that first round. In the past, you rolled into that round. Now, [teams can] actually stop and have the whole night to sit there and think about it and talk to other teams and develop a new strategy. Everybody does that on the second day; now we have three days. It’s a different dynamic.”
Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland echoed those sentiments in the Times-Union. “These guys are not just first- and second-day players anymore,” said Ireland. “They’re first-, second- and third-day players now. It will be a late night Thursday and Friday, [but] I’m looking forward to it. I think the format will be interesting. I like the time to think about your most important picks.”
On the other hand, the seemingly typical reaction from fans is quite different.
Instead of Saturday morning, pajama clad in the privacy of your home; or nestled, beer and sandwich and in hand, in the refuge of a small group of like-minded, football loving draft-aware compadres…the NFL has decided to “improve” the draft by chopping it into three pieces, eradicating a tradition fans have grown fond of.
Round 1 starts at 7:30 on a Thursday night. Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday night, and the rest of the draft to be followed up on Saturday. That, my friends, is moronic.
So let’s get this straight. In it’s effort to capitalize on the draft’s recent surge in popularity, the NFL has drastically reconfigured the draft so that it can squeeze maximum dollars from ESPN and advertisers on their own NFL Network,and the result is the absolute destruction of the draft as a social event for fans to cheer, enjoy and rally around together.
The problem with the new format NFL Draft is that the most important day is now on a Thursday night. Why should that matter, you ask? Consider what used to happen on draft’s first day.
It would be a Saturday in mid-April. Fine weather for most of the U.S. Fine weather for a barbecue. Football fans would get together with their friends, eat, drink, and be merry, all while watching their favorite NFL team draft new hope. (Or, in the case of Raiders’ fans, curse and throw things at the TV.) The point is, the day was ABOUT the NFL draft, without being ONLY about the NFL draft. And for that reason, no one realized how boring it really was.
Now, on a Thursday night, fine weather or not, fewer people will get together. Many, while having to work the next day, will watch alone, hoping to see those fleeting moments of excitement, interspersed with long periods of mind numbing boredom. One can only listen to Mel Kiper for so long without wanting to shoot oneself.