The 75th NFL Draft begins on Thursday, and unlike years past, the first round this year is happening in prime time. More likely than not, you already knew this. But if you didn’t, you might have learned it last week in the pages of noted sports publication Variety. You see, the Draft is no longer, to use the Philadelphia Inquirer’s term, a bureaucratic exercise. It’s a full-blown event now, with a red carpet and celebrities to go along with the football junkies in the Radio City rafters, still ready and willing to boo whatever the Jets do, if only out of tradition.
Speaking of tradition, Chris Berman just re-upped with ESPN, meaning he’ll get to workshop new nicknames at this draft and subsequent ones, at least until the NFL decides to air the thing on its own network exclusively. We imagine the prime-time gimmick is a tradition in the making, too, even if some folks on the West Coast aren’t thrilled about it airing at 4:30 in the afternoon their time on Thursday.
It’s possible that the draft’s longer duration — it now takes place over three days, with rounds two and three happening Friday, and rounds four through seven on Saturday — means teams might have more time to work out trades. But that’s just an incidental byproduct of the new time slot that, despite those gainfully employed West Coasters, should bring in big ratings. Because, really, you didn’t need to watch The Office at 9 p.m. anyway. That’s what your DVR is for.