The NFL will return to a classic, large, live, in-person NFL Draft this year according to Sports Business Journal. The 2021 NFL Draft will take place on the Cleveland lakefront from April 29th to May 1st. No word on whether they'll finally get to break out those water taxis meant for the original 2020 Vegas draft.
Peter O'Reilly, the NFL Exec VP/Club Business & League Events, told SBJ that the event will "hammer home a pro-vaccine message." This should be a nice juxtaposition with the fact that Greater Cleveland Sports Commission CEO David Gilbert characterizes the Cleveland draft as a "large, live, in-person event" while we will still be in the middle of the pandemic. According to Gilbert, they don't know how big the event will legally be allowed to be, but "certainly no matter what it would be the largest event in this city in many years, certainly since the ('16) Republican Convention,”
Well, I'm sold. It's like gathering all these people from across the country in one place for something that can be done over Zoom is the only way. It's not like they pulled off a more interesting draft under basically the same circumstances last year.
The argument would be that the NFL Draft is a capital-e EVENT. The question is, for whom? Roger Goodell, so he can give each guy a stern bro-hug to let them know he cares? The players, who awkwardly sit in a room surrounded by agents and whoever else tested negative enough times to qualified for their limited travel party? Was it not better to let them squirm in their own living rooms and more interesting to see a peek inside their homes? Can you imagine not knowing what Joe Burrow's drapes look like?
The NFL claims they want to do this to serve as a "role model and showcase a bit of what a brighter future continues to look like, in terms of being able to do live, in-person events safely." You know what a brighter future looks like? One where the pandemic ends and we can just do this dog-and-pony show because we don't have any real concerns. Or we could fly a few hundred people into Cleveland to watch young men try on hats in the same location. And they are going to need a lot of space.
However many draft picks are present, they will each be given enough room for 10 guests and will be "distanced and divided" from other parties. So, like 20 or so rooms big enough for a family to live in for a couple hours. Plus an "inner circle" near the stage, sponsored by Subway, where each team will invite 12 vaccinated fans.
Sounds like the we've finally found the turning point of the pandemic and to no one's surprise, it's the NFL leading the way. Enjoy your draft, Cleveland!