Last night reminded me of how the most seemingly boring sporting events can sometimes be the most fun.
Those of you in the know must have already figured it out. I’m talking about the NFL Draft.
Five years ago—yes, I’m reminiscing again—I went to the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, and it was awesome.
See, what makes the draft fun to watch on television is the actual draft: which teams are going to trade, will your favorite team draft that quarterback you want so badly, how will my Eagles screw it up again. They’re all fun for a big football fan like me.
But attending the draft in person is fun for a whole other laundry list of reasons. For example, did you know that Buffalo Bills fans exist in places outside of Buffalo? I certainly hadn’t ever seen one before that day.
Every type of fan was welcome. Sure, some got teased more than others, but it was all in good fun.
Except for Patriots fans.
I never thought I’d find a place in New York City where my views as an Eagles fan were so welcome. While waiting in line blocks down the road from Radio City, every few minutes I would hear a rumble. As the seconds ticked by, the rumble turned louder. Eventually, a minute later, it would reach a roar.
A roar of boos.
Because that noise meant that a Patriot fan was walking from the front of the line, where he thought he would just sneak in, all the way to the back with the rest of us. And every single person he walked past along the way chipped in with some boos.
The Draft wasn’t all fun and games. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, I’m a Philadelphia Eagles fan. I joke that making me an Eagles fan is one of the worst things my dad could’ve done to me.
But back in that era, unlike last night where I got to enjoy the Eagles making a smart choice in Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson in Chip Kelly’s first year as head coach, I had to sit through the nightmare that is an Andy Reid draft.
After taking a 7 a.m. bus to Manhattan, waiting in line for hours, taking a quick break for lunch and sitting through 18 long picks, my good friend and I finally got we had wanted for: the Eagles were on the clock.
A few minutes later, with us on our feet leading “E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles” chants, the announcer told the crowd there had been a trade. Start the waiting room clock again.
And it was a long clock. The Eagles moved down 25 picks in the trade with Carolina. As much fun as the draft is, watching other teams pick before your team pick after pick gets pretty rough.
But Andy Reid hadn’t even pulled his final trick. When the Eagles finally came back on the clock again and with the top wide receivers still tantalizingly available, Reid did the unthinkable: he traded down again.
At that point, we became the laughingstocks of Radio City. Out of all the things Andy had done in his tenure, that moment was about as angry as I’d ever been.
How could Andy do that? How could he ruin what had been one of the most fun sports days I’d ever had?
But redemption was coming. After one of the longest (non-work) days I’ve ever had, Andy came through. With the 49th pick, the Eagles took my man DeSean Jackson—I wouldn’t hate his alma mater Cal until I got my acceptance letter from Stanford 20 months later—and I went home happy.
So what’s the point of this whole thing? Besides allowing myself to write another self-indulging column—and what do you expect from a columnist who writes on #ThrowBackThursdays—I wanted to give you a glimpse into the NFL Draft.
I’ve been to a Super Bowl. I’ve been to the MLB playoffs. The NFL Draft was more fun than either. It’s a cross between sports talk radio, a tailgate party and opening day. If you have a chance, you have to go. And wear your favorite jersey.
Sam Fisher will be back at the 2014 NFL Draft, where the Eagles can certainly expect to have the first pick after yet another disastrous season. Tell him why there’s no need to be nostalgic at safisher ‘at’ stanford.edu and follow him on Twitter at @SamFisher908.