NFL Draft via remote locations was a whopping success
The NFL Draft continues Friday night, and the second-day picks – second and third rounds – always lose a little luster. By Saturday, rounds fourth through seven, you’re just ready to get the thing over with.
But if the first round Thursday night is any indication, the draft Friday night will be fun. The digital draft, with literally every participant except ESPN host Trey Wingo coming from home bases, was a rousing success.
ESPN struck just the right tone, with constant tributes to health-care workers and those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, amid the usual talk of 40-yard dash speed and roster needs. Best of all, the players themselves went from being models at a fashion show to being surrounded by family.
Do we really need bear hugs of commissioner Roger Goodell to make the draft fun? No. Seeing families celebrate was fun, and seeing coaches and general managers, often with children in tow, gave pro football a human side that was much needed.
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The NFL did more than pull off a draft remotely. It produced a better show than normal.
Frankly, the runaway excess of NFL Draft production was out of hand. From a New York stage to the new phenomenon of taking over a big chunk of a metropolitan landmark – this year was supposed to be amid the Las Vegas Strip; last year was in downtown Nashville – the draft had become too glitzy. Style had squashed substance.
The pandemic brought the NFL Draft back to Earth. Fewer talking heads clamoring for air time. The system was by necessity less frenetic. Only one person could talk at once. Whatever clunkiness resulted in the remote setup was offset by the quaintness.
Even Goodell, from his man cave, was less annoying than usual. Goodell has little charm and no camera charisma. But he was mostly fine announcing the draft selections. He even tipped off a selection, letting the Dolphin fans know before the 18th pick that Miami was going offense, to help new quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Goodell messed up the announcement that Vegas being given the 2022 draft after missing out on this one – he said Vegas would host the 2020 draft – but cut him some slack. These home studios are not easy. I’ve taught Sunday School the last three weeks via Facebook Live. Nothing easy about it.
So the draft was a success. Sure, we were hungry for anything to meet our sports fix, even if it’s something as squishy as the draft. But ESPN more than met our desire. It was a good show. I’ll be watching again Friday night.