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Who Mastered (And Muffed) The Virtual NFL Draft

In the early 1980s, the NFL Draft was held in a New York hotel conference room on a Tuesday morning.

Posted: Apr 29, 2020 1:38 PM

In the early 1980s, the NFL Draft was held in a New York hotel conference room on a Tuesday morning.

The "annual player selection meeting" as it was called back then had only team executives in attendance and was broadcast on a brand-new cable network, ESPN, that had to convince the league this was something people would want to watch.

But now it's one of the most anticipated and talked about events on the American sports calendar.

Last year over 600,000 filled the streets of downtown Nashville for the three-day extravaganza.

This year's draft was supposed to be held on a floating stage in front of the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, those lavish plans were scrapped, and the first-ever virtual draft was born.

Everyone, from the commissioner Roger Goodell, to players, team execs and even fans in their own homes, connected only through the internet and TV sets.

And it delivered in a big way.

The American sports fan

Some NFL commentators were skeptical about whether the league should be holding a draft while so many were in the midst of massive suffering and loss during this coronavirus pandemic.

But an opening montage narrated by Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning centering around hope set the perfect tone for a draft like no other.

The broadcast sprinkled in dozens of message`s from current and former players thanking health care workers and others fighting the virus.

And the league held a Draft-A-Thon during the broadcast, raising more than $6.7 million over the three days, adding to the more than $100 million the league has helped raise for agencies assisting those in need during the pandemic.

It was respectful yet fun and just what sports fans in the U.S. needed after going more than a month without a major live sporting event. The league says more than 55 million fans tuned into the three-day event, setting a new record.

Technology

After some early hiccups in a dress rehearsal, everything seemed to go without a hitch, at least to the average viewer.

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the picks in front of a TV in his basement and even offered fans the chance to virtually boo him (a draft night tradition) as he came on TV.

The league gave over 60 prospects video equipment to capture the moment they were selected.

The cheers and tears that followed were heartfelt and beautiful to watch. And it was great to see some emotional moments from team owners, coaches and executives as well.

Many of them celebrated the picks they made with their families, something they don't get to do when they're all huddled in team facilities all weekend.

We even saw New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick's dog sitting in front of his computer at the dinner table.

You'll never see that at a draft again.

The Brady-less Patriots

After losing six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency, the Patriots were hoping to draft a quarterback with one of their ten picks in the draft. But it didn't happen.

Bill Belichick said that wasn't by design but the right quarterback wasn't there when their time came up to pick.

That leaves Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer on the roster.

Could the Pats be vying for another quarterback before next season starts or will they have to star with an unproven leader of their offense?

Tom Brady and the Bucs

Brady is joining some elite offensive talent in Tampa Bay, including the addition of his former teammate Rob Gronkowski last week.

But they needed some help on the offensive line and they got it with their first-round pick Tristan Wirfs.

Then in the second round they helped their defense with cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr.

Antonie Sr. was a cornerback in the league for 14 years and intercepted a pass from Brady back in 2001.

Now Jr. will be playing with Brady in Tampa.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers

As a Green Bay supporter, it pains me to list them as a loser but I feel I have to.

The Packers were one win away from the Super Bowl last year but their superstar quarterback seemed frustrated by the lack of production from his wide receivers.

Thirty-seven receivers were taken in the draft, none of them by Green Bay.

Not only that, the Packers traded up in the first round to select quarterback Jordan Love.

Rodgers was drafted late in the first round in 2005 and sat behind the legendary Brett Favre.

Let's see how Rodgers will deal with having to compete with a quarterback taken late in the first round.

Arryn Siposs

Three shoulder reconstructions forced the former Australian Football League player to quit the sport and turn his attention to American Football.

He was hoping to get drafted after a successful career as a punter for Auburn University but that didn't happen.

After the draft is over, players that are left undrafted are free to sign with any club and Siposs was the first to find a home, with the Detroit Lions signing him as a free agent minutes after the draft concluded.

If Siposs makes the club, he'll be the 8th Australian in the NFL.

Seven others born outside the U.S. were taken in the draft.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1717876

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1793291843
Cuyahoga1681592655
Hamilton1137721544
Montgomery805721405
Summit719531210
Lucas630291027
Butler56852814
Stark538501183
Lorain42330645
Warren35959417
Mahoning35798788
Lake32314501
Clermont31289369
Trumbull27344620
Delaware27206185
Licking26658344
Medina26042353
Fairfield24638287
Greene24378373
Clark22122390
Portage21257283
Richland21102342
Wood20128248
Allen18969326
Miami17338352
Columbiana16905335
Muskingum16726207
Wayne15740307
Tuscarawas14454362
Marion13332196
Ashtabula12732237
Erie12685199
Scioto12475188
Pickaway12260155
Ross11719226
Hancock11529175
Geauga10934179
Lawrence10653172
Belmont10459234
Huron9805159
Jefferson9632228
Union957375
Sandusky9348166
Seneca8917161
Knox8792176
Washington8688159
Darke8399181
Athens838197
Ashland8029152
Auglaize7943120
Shelby7511135
Defiance7358117
Crawford7281150
Fulton7215113
Brown7173116
Logan7003111
Guernsey696186
Mercer6933100
Highland6745120
Clinton6526106
Williams650099
Madison649790
Preble6274140
Putnam6244122
Jackson581597
Champaign580887
Perry566779
Coshocton5645108
Ottawa5641102
Morrow517765
Fayette494072
Hardin4895100
Gallia471478
Van Wert467895
Pike465578
Adams4592110
Henry434280
Hocking410193
Holmes3999141
Wyandot377675
Carroll366178
Paulding325451
Meigs305961
Monroe235961
Noble220349
Morgan216939
Harrison213153
Vinton187638
Unassigned06
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