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The 2005 NFL Draft - by Zennie Abraham

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Thanks to Frank Supovitz, SVP of Special Events for the NFL, Greg Aiello, Vice President of Public Relations of the National Football League, and Leslie Hammond, VP of Media Relations for the NFL, I was able to cover the 2005 NFL Draft. Here's my account - Zennie Abraham, Chairman and CEO, Sports Business Simulations.

The 2005 NFL Draft Part 7

Mike Golic Prepares His Cookies

Winding Down - ESPN's Mike Golic Feeds the Animals

You know the NFL Draft's winding down when the best entertaiment comes from the ESPN stage. In fact, it became apparent how much the show belonged to ESPN when the producers asked the small, but noisy crowd to move in close together, rather than dispersed in seats spread out from each other -- all the better to make the TV audience think there was still a major, crowd-drawing event going on.

The ESPN people made it their mission to keep the long-staying fans fired up, from one stage director pumping his arms to the crowd as a signal for them to make noise when the camera's were on, to Mike Golic engaging in long-distance conversations with excited, jersey-wearing men. And as if that weren't enough, the chants of "We love you Suzy!" rang out clear once again. Suzy Kolber should have her own calendar. It would sell. I found the whole episode quite funny.

But what took the cake was Golic's decision to litterally toss his cookies into the crowd. My first thought was that it looked like he was feeding animals at the zoo. But then it occured to me that his actions were appropriate: the crowd was acting like animals at the zoo. It certainly helped pass the time, as even the most diehard Drafniks were fading, and a lot of press people had left to catch their flights -- their work was finished a while go.

By the 205th pick in the Sixth Round with one round to go, there was definitely a collective feeling of "let's get this over with," but it's countered by the fact that even these late rounds are important turning points in the lives of the student athletes still available to "go pro." Moreover, considering that the majority of successful players are mid-to-late round draft picks, it's really the 3rd through the 7th round picks that determine how great a team's player scouting and development department does. Many teams had a number of picks between rounds five and seven, like the Jacksonville Jaguars' who seemed determined to wheel and deal. By the seventh round, everyone was waiting for one thing: the selection of "Mr. Irrelevant."
A Very Funny Paul Salada

"Mr. Irrelevant" - Paul Salata's Baby

"Zennie," Chachkes said,"You gotta see this. What they do in announcing Mr. Irrelevant is something to watch. "Mr. Irrelevant" is the name given to the final pick -- the 255th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. The extremely funny Mr. Paul Salata founded the award in 1976, and announced the New England Patriots selection of Andy Stokes, a tight end from tiny William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa. But to me, the personality of 77-year old Mr. Salata is the untold story.

When you attend the Draft as a press person you get used to getting up and walking, either to talk to someone, get something to eat, use the bathroom, or to just plain stretch your legs. In doing this, you run into people again and again. In my case I saw Salata a lot, and on top of that, he came over to share a joke with Bill Chachkes. But on one occasion he really caught me off guard.

It was the middle of the Fourth Round, and I had just came from the men's room and walked into the main room, when Paul walked over and said "Just came from the room huh? Figures. Did ya here that name?" Then, pointing at my pants with his cane, he laughed and said "I'll bet that's what you did!" The Kansas City Chiefs had just drafted Florida State Wide Receiver Craphonso Thorpe.

Now Departing - Until Next Year

In closing, the NFL Draft is quite an experience, one that perhaps should be taken to other cities. I have mixed emotions about the idea, as it seems such a New York-thing. Chachkes and I talked about this, and he thinks it should be rotated to other cities. It's up to the NFL, but I think the league has one of the best reality TV shows in the world.
ESPN's Set In the Middle of The Action

It's ESPN's World; We Just Live In It

What was strange to me was the lack of a "presence" by the NFL Network. I mean there were a few personalities -- well one person. But ESPN seemed to actually run what part of the Draft was broadcast on TV. To my eye, ESPN's work was very scripted and focused on the crowd in the stands, the main stage, and their own stage, and little else. They didn't have cameras and personalities darting around the main floor, going to this radio table, or interviewing someone at the press table, or just walking around - period. So viewers miss what Draft Day is really about. The NFL should fill this void with the NFL Network.

As I was walking out to hail a cab to my hotel, I saw Paul Salata, energetically whistling for a cab with his daughter. One quickly drove up. I don't know if it was offered and Paul refused, but the NFL should provide a limo for him. He's what the NFL Draft is all about. more..

NFL Draft Part One | NFL Draft Part Two | NFL Draft Part Three | NFL Draft Part Four | NFL Draft Part Five | NFL Draft Part Six | NFL Draft Part Seven

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