With the draft being so close, and a member of the MCM family attending this year's draft, along with some questions about it in the draft week open thread, I wanted to share my experience of going to the draft in 2009 when I was living in NYC. This was the year we picked late after the damn Ratbirds took out CJ and ended up taking Britt. Join me as I take you through the amusing, the boring and everything in between of attending the NFL Draft in person.
This was I believe the last year before they went to the three-day, prime time format (sidenote: does anyone else miss having this on Saturday? It made for a lazy day but I loved marathoning the first three rounds). So Friday night I headed to Radio City Music Hall and stood outside with thousands of other fans for several hours. This was JUST to get the wristband and ticket for entrance; it is first-come, first-serve so obviously the closer to the front of the line, the better your seat will be.
After waiting for several hours, finally got to go through and get my wristband and ticket for admittance the next day. Saturday, you get to repeat the process and stand in line for a bit just waiting to get in to the building. Fortunately this is more festive and exciting as all the TV cameras are out there getting crowd shots, the Jets fans are already being obnoxious...and everyone is booing anyone who is wearing a Cowboys jersey.
Finally getting into Radio City, you are given a backpack with some goodies inside (though nothing too special). I brought my own bag with a draft guide I liked so I could follow along and read up on prospects as they were taken. Ironically enough, I ended up sitting right next to a Ravens fan and we managed to be cordial enough. Most of the real fans are on the top couple of balconies, I believe I was on the second one. The floor is mainly guests of the league, VIPs and people who pay for those special packages on NFL.com. We could look down and see both the ESPN and NFL Network sets, and one thing I did like was they gave everyone earpieces and you could tune in to the audio feed of either network while giant screens had the video.
Before the televised draft begins with the Commissioner, they brought out all the prospects who were there in person and Deion Sanders introduced them. Then the fun began and there wasn't a huge difference between what you see on TV and what we had in person. The biggest thing would probably be that Deion interviewed prospects just for us (I think they are now broadcast too). Otherwise...pretty much got the same experience as you would at home.
Honestly, it gets kind of tedious sitting there for hours when your team is picking 28th. This was also the Sanchez draft so that was entertaining seeing the reaction of Jets fans.
My advice for any of you attending...be prepared to stand in line for several hours the night before as well as the day of the draft. And bring something to read because you will get bored sitting there, even with the audio available from both television broadcasts. And my humble opinion is don't plan a trip to New York solely to attend the draft unless you are just a diehard draftnik and want to do it. It was cool to be there in person and I like being able to say I've done it, but I was living in the city at the time so giving up a Friday night/Saturday wasn't a big deal. Don't use vacation time for it! I much prefer sitting on my couch with the TV on and my laptop open to MCM.