Good news, football fans. The incursion of the draft into May may be only a one-year experiment.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tells Jeff Darlington of NFL Media that the timing of future drafts has not been determined. Which means that it could stay in May, and that it could go back to April.
This year’s delay ostensibly arose from a scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall, where an Easter-related event was planned for what would have been yesterday, today, and/or tomorrow. That event eventually was canceled due to lack of interest.
Bad news, football fans. There’s still a chance that the NFL has become completely tone deaf regarding the potential for suffering the same fate as the Easter-related event that was canceled due to lack of interest.
Goodelll also tells Darlington that the seven-round draft could become a four-day affair. Four days. Four. Freaking. Days.
Already, three days are one too many. Sure, there’s now something special about having round one on a Thursday night. And rounds two and three have some extra relevance by standing alone on Friday.
But only a small fraction of the fan base cares zealously about the final four rounds. As currently constructed, the third day of the draft feels like it never will end.
Stretching it out to four days makes sense only if the NFL is considering moving the final two days of the draft to another city, rotating it from towns like Pittsburgh to Cleveland to Philly to Dallas and creating intense local interest for a large chunk of the process in which national (and New York City) interest is much, much lower.
I’ve been at Radio City Music Hall for every day of the draft since it was expanded to a three-day affair. The energy (and crowd) of the first night fades noticeably by the second night. By the third day, the crowd thins and the buzz evaporates and it feels like everyone is just trying to get through to the last pick so they can pack up and go home.
Meanwhile, the league also seems to be pushing back against the notion that it was a mistake to move the draft to May. New Bucs coach Lovie Smith tells Darlington that Lovie likes having extra time, especially as a new coach in a new city. While he may feel that way this year, after a full season out of the sport, how many Mother’s Day weekends will he spend working before he’s sleeping at the office not for work-related reasons?
That’s the other issue that’s currently driving a wedge, we’re told, between football operations employees and the league’s business people. The latter will make it to Mother’s Day church services and/or brunch and/or dinner this year. The former will instead be chasing undrafted free agents, placing further strain on family relationships already tested by a profession that creates plenty of stress without devoting two more weeks to jobs that already overwhelm the lives of coaches, General Managers, and scouts.
So even if the draft stays in May for future years, here’s hoping that a league that allows the widespread uniform infiltration of the color pink in October for breast cancer awareness will show equal respect to wives and mothers by steering clear of the one day of the year in which they receive the credit, praise, and attention they deserve for the sacrifices they make on the other 364.