It was one of the weirdest NFL Drafts in history. Surprisingly, it was one of the most entertaining drafts ever as there were so many different aspects that made the viewer seem so much more connected to the action. With sports fans around the world starving for any capacity of sports, Day One of the Draft boasted a 37% increase in viewers from last season with 15.6 MILLION VIEWERS. An immense amount of respect and applause need to go towards the NFL for not only doing their duty by keeping the social distance mandate in effect, but running such a smooth production in times like we’ve never seen. Sports were needed and the NFL delivered.
Here is what viewers saw on their TV’s when ESPN switched to Patriots’ draft headquarters in Nantucket after the Patriots drafted Kyle Dugger at 40th overall in the NFL Draft. Pictured is Nike, whose owner is one of, if not the best coach in NFL history. From jokes about Belichick being a shapeshifter, to the pure comedic posture taken by Nike, it’s one of the best pictures of the whole weekend.
Mike Vrabel (pink shirt) is one of the most interesting coaches in the NFL. From actually doing some drills with players he’s scouting on their pro days to doing pushups, planks, and squats for at least 15 minutes before the biggest game of his coaching career, the camera loves him. It was no different during draft weekend as on the far right of the picture is his son Carter wearing his dad’s old pro bowl jersey with a blonde mullet. The boy with his arms crossed is Carter’s friend Jackson, wearing a Frozone costume from the Incredibles movie. And tucked away in the very back left is Vrabel’s son Tyler, who appears to be in the “squatting on the toilet” position, but Mike says he was simply sitting on a barstool. “It’s been a long quarantine over here, man.”
Henry Ruggs chose comfort over fashion during the biggest moment of his football career, and you couldn’t help but crack a smile. The 12th overall pick sported an Old Spice robe to millions and millions of people, but some of Ruggs’ rookie contract money will be going towards paying a fine. According to Pro Football Talk, it was communicated to the players that they couldn’t wear “third party logos” other than official league partners. Hopefully, Old Spice paid him enough to cover the incoming fine that is coming his way.
The NFL announced 58 draft prospects would participate in the draft through remote hookups. The league said no more than six people were allowed when the in-home cameras were in operation, to comply with social distancing recommendations.
The NFL, which has a partnership with Microsoft, established a modified Microsoft Teams application on which most of the communication between the NFL and its teams, including player selection, took place. NBC Sports’ Peter King recently explained how the selection process would work:
“Each team’s designated drafter will be connected to the league’s official Microsoft Teams private and encrypted draft channel, and will make the pick through that channel. There are two fail-safes: A GM can call Fiore or a member of his team directly by landline or cell with the pick. Also, there will be a conference call for the length of the draft with club officials muted; the club official designated to make the pick can unmute his/her line and announce the pick. If the pick is made through Microsoft Teams, Fiore or his representative will announce on the conference call that a pick has been made and the next team is on the clock.”
The NFL reportedly spearheaded an IT project to install or confirm reliable internet connections at the homes of all team decision-makers, and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told ESPN each team is allowed to put one IT specialist in the decision-maker’s home. As another safeguard, in addition to the Microsoft Teams video conference, teams will have a separate broadband connection with the NFL.
One of the longstanding traditions in his almost 14 years of being the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell was once again booed when introducing the NFL Draft. He has embraced this relationship with the fans who don’t always reward him with respect and gratitude, his attempt to connect with them was on full display.
The NFL wanted to give viewers that image of fans reacting to hearing their teams’ picks during the draft so they implemented a virtual montage of 15 fans on the TV behind Goodell as in this video.
It’s not known if the fans were pre-recorded to prevent any malicious actions by fans. All in all, it was a nice way for fans to get involved and see the crowd reacting with every ounce of emotion in their bodies.
It was nice to be given the opportunity to see the players’ reactions when receiving that life-changing phone call. With the standard NFL Draft protocol being altered for the pandemic, people weren’t sure if they would get a look at the players when they got the news. The raw joy and euphoric hugs were ever so present and it was nice to see so many of the players showing so much love to those that helped them get to that point in their lives. Pictured above is the number one overall pick, Joe Burrow getting the call from Bengals’ management; his parents are happy to see their son achieve his dreams. Below is a video of Mekhi Becton, receiving the news and celebrating with his family. This video gives viewers the audio element of the conversation and it’s really touching to see how excited and appreciative Mekhi and his family are. These are the feel-good moments that sports fans needed at this time.
NFL coaches and GM’s got to show off their families during draft weekend; the kids were the stars of the show throughout. The smiles on the faces of the sons and daughters when they saw themselves on TV was priceless, and they were so proud of their dads. While many probably didn’t realize the importance of their dads’ phone calls, they were ecstatic to have their 30 seconds of fame……..until the next pick of course.
Leave it to Jerry Jones to be making decisions for his team’s future in a 250 million dollar yacht docked in Miami. The owner of the proclaimed “America’s Team” is worth $5.6 billion dollars and had the biggest flex of the weekend when shown at pick number 17.
Roger Goodell became more and more comfortable as the draft progressed. Here he is seen in his lounging chair that he watches the NFL games during the season. The viewers all got a more personal look into the life of Goodell, but after announcing 90 picks, everyone can agree that he can take a load off, right?
With the threat of possible disaster at any time, this was a perfectly executed plan for the NFL. Although players didn’t get to share those precious moments going up to Commissioner Goodell and giving him a bear hug, they understood the circumstances and will be thankful for the chance to hear their name called. A big thank you goes out to everyone who played a part in making this event so successful in such a time of need for sports fans.
Oh, and can everyone agree that Roger Goodell really isn’t that bad of a commissioner?
Written by Jacob Lenzendorf 64.8 | 9.4
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One Comment to “Virtually, a ‘Seemingless Transition for The NFL”
Good Story, Jacob.