This year, the NFL tried something new, pushing up the annual draft two weeks from its usual slot in late April.
Next year — and I won’t mince words here — they should take things a step further and relocate the offseason spectacle to another locale.
Feel free to stop reading, Big Apple denizens. The truth may hurt.
For more than a half century, New York has been the home site of the draft. In fact, the only time in recorded history it’s been held elsewhere was in 1963, at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago.
Fifty-one years (18,615 days) later, television cameras are still panning to New York’s innumerable amount of taxis and skyscrapers as an opening to the draft’s coverage. Consider: In that time span, 21 different cities have played host to the Super Bowl, arguably the grandest event in all of sports.
If it seems like NYC has received a sort of preferential treatment, that’s because it has. Largest media market, one of the world’s most popular attractions, home of league headquarters.
Admittedly, New York has a special cache; it needs no further explanation. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other cities that can (figuratively) take the torch from Lady Liberty.
Fortunately, commissioner Roger Goodell and other NFL executives have recognized as much. TheMMQB.com’s Peter King recently reported that the draft is “likely” to be held outside of New York City in 2015.
King affirmed the league is unhappy with Radio City Music Hall, which has housed the draft since 2006. The iconic venue delayed revealing its spring schedule this past year, forcing the NFL into a holding pattern. Unavailable in late April due to an Easter show taking place at Radio City, the draft’s date was eventually set for May 8.
But when Radio City abruptly canceled the Easter show, “the NFL seethed.” Goodell is not in the business of getting jerked around, especially when two other local, higher-capacity venues — Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn — were open.
With a bad taste left in its mouth, the league began fielding calls from other cities’ representatives. They came in quick and steady.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft threw his hat into the ring for Boston. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel twice spoke to Goodell on the Windy City’s behalf. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has pushed for his palace to get the honor. Even Los Angeles, which hasn’t had an NFL team to call its own since 1995, is considered a serious contender.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the NFL has whittled down its choices to three — Chicago, LA, and … you guessed it, New York. Chicago and Los Angeles both have the necessary facilities in place for the draft, and are the second and third biggest television markets, respectively.
King’s gut feeling has the 2015 draft kicking off in Chicago, with the first round beginning on April 30. This, of course, is speculative. There remains a lot of time between now and then. A lot still can change.
In the interest of breaking droning monotony, however, let’s hope he’s correct. The city that never sleeps could use a nap next April.