Our Championship- An NFL Draft Story
Our (most recent) Championship- The 2017 NFL Draft
Congratulations Philadelphia, it has been nearly a decade since our last title but we finally pulled one off! No, it was not our beloved Phillies , NHL Flyers , Sixers or Eagles and while I recently attended a Soul Football game, I am not talking about them either. I am talking about the NFL Draft.
Now that I have your attention, please stop screaming, calling me names, and asking me if this is a joke. Clearly I am joking. There was no Lombardi Trophy or Stanley Cup presented to Philly Mayor Kenney or the @philadelphiaGov for what we accomplished, although it could be argued that we damn well deserved one. The Philadelphia Eagles, the City and its citizens with assistance from the NFL just completed the single greatest draft spectacle in the history of any professional or amateur sport. Now that we did what New York, Chicago and others around the country thought we couldn’t do, everyone is asking the question, “Do we go for a repeat?”
The simple answer is no!
And, I say this knowing full well that you have good reasons for wanting a repeat. However, if you can convince me to change my mind after hearing my reasoning; beers will be on me.
First, I want to talk about my experience at the NFL Draft and why I believe I am qualified enough, in this instance to write about it. I was fortunate enough to attend two days: Thursday and Saturday. On Thursday night, I was mixing it up with the team from @4thandjawn. I am sure by now most, if not all of you have seen this famous sign as it was featured on Philly.com and ESPN. Packed in shoulder to shoulder with nearly 100,000 other people on the Parkway, we stood for hours with fans from Dallas, New York, Washington, and more, waiting anxiously for the events of the evening to transpire.
It was a surreal experience and one I can assure you, no one in any planning meeting for The City, NFL or Eagles truly anticipated. As I understand it, the NFL had expected a crowd of about 25-35k on Thursday night. I think we eclipsed that number by a few extra subway cars. That brings me to Saturday. On Saturday, the experience was very different. The crowds were smaller and there was more room to walk around the entirety of the grounds and check out the event from various vantage points. I was fortunate enough to have a seat inside the theatre, 5 rows back from the on stage crew featuring everyone’s favorite RedZone personality, Scott Hanson.
Adorned in my Randall Cunningham jersey, Philly’s own @ColleenWolfeNFL singled me out to be called on stage with 3 other lucky Eagles fans to participate in Eagles trivia. I ultimately outlasted the others by naming off one-by-one, the starting 22 of the Eagles last Super Bowl appearance. My prize, an official NFL football autographed by the Ax Man, Jeremiah Trotter. As you can see, I had quite the experience and was able to soak in the crowds, the madness and the amazing theatre constructed right on the Art Museum steps.
Now that you have some context from what I experienced at the draft, let me explain why we should happily let this show move on to the next town.
- Attendance– Something magical happened at the NFL draft that most of you, while aware of the final numbers, may not have realized were the expectations. As I mentioned above, the talk leading up the draft among the planning committees was that a crowd, at least for the opening night when crowds were expected to be the largest, would be about 25-35k people. The city and visitors crushed that number and depending on the final estimate you saw, were approximately 3x as large as anticipated. This was new, exciting and the first time the NFL really pushed an open venue for their draft. I realize Chicago was partially outside, but it was certainly limited in scale, size and scope comparatively to what we had in Philadelphia on the Parkway.
- Weather– Anyone who attended or watched knew instantly that we were blessed with 3 perfect April days in a row. The odds of having that happen again has to be in the billions. I don’t have an actuary’s degree but I assure you my numbers are damn close. Simply put, we all know if we try this again next year, we aren’t going to have heaven smiling down upon us as we did this year. One cloud in the sky and we’ll get lambasted.
- Crowd Control and Police Presence– Zero Arrests. I want to say that again, Zero Arrests. Our city put on a show that featured over a quarter million people converging on one space over a 3-day span that involved alcohol, passionate fan bases and heated rivalries and the @PhillyPolice Department recorded zero arrests. There is credit due to the fans, a diverse group that all came together for the love of the sport at a time in our country’s history when it is easy to be divisive. Credit is also due to, the volunteers, the NFL and the Eagles for great planning and execution of the event. But, most importantly, immense credit is due to Philadelphia’s Finest. They have all received additional training in crowd control and diffusing potentially escalating situations. Again, our police department is the gold standard for handling massive open air events like this and they proved it (again) with the draft.
- Positive Publicity-Not only did anyone who attended the draft see what a show we put on. But, those who watched around the country and the world also saw what was a first class show. We rolled out the red carpet and highlighted what Philadelphia was/is about
- The Spectacle Itself– I could have put this up with attendance but I felt like it deserved its own point. The backdrop of the Philadelphia Art Museum and its steps as one of the most historic, recognizable structures in America was perfect. The Philadelphia fans and even non-Cowboy fans joining in to resounding chants of Dallas Sucks at every opportunity. The surrounding buildings being used as backdrops to show pick status as seen in the video below. The fake pop that Drew Pearson got when he was told by @nflcommish Goodell to troll the Philly fans. Even the boos that drowned out Goodell every time he walked to the podium blew away anything that had been seen or done before. Everything was perfect and went off without hitch.
— #ClassicJeff (@Jeffrey_len) June 1, 2017
If you look up “perfect” in the dictionary you get the following:
- Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be
- Absolute, complete
Folks, the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Eagles, our fans, and everyone involved in the NFL Draft for those 3 days and all the days leading up to the event were perfect! I believe that there is something to be said for that and in this particular instance, let’s go out on top, undefeated with our NFL Draft Championship and not let anything diminish those three special days in April.