Welcome to the life of NFL fans trying to get into the 2013 NFL Draft. Unlike pretty much any sports game ever, you can not buy access or preferential treatment (unless you are a real juiced up baller and if so, God bless you). Instead the cost is a pound of your sanity is that you have to stand out side of Radio City all afternoon in an immobile line for a free ticket. The bracelets (which you use to get your ticket after waiting on line the next day) were being distributed at 9 pm. I figured I would get there before 5 pm and beat everyone leaving work.
Getting to the line at 5 meant I was only behind 400 other people. It sounds like a lot, but the line would eventually contain thousands of fans.
My partner on this adventure was the guy who made me a Jets fan (thanks, I’m sure being a Giants fan this last decade would have been terrible) @LolaNewYork.
Why am I wearing a Vietnamese rice paddy/vietcong hat? I brought a bunch back from Vietnam a few weeks ago for friends and was still in the process of distributing them. I had arrived in NYC by bus just before and had brought one for a friend. It looked less ridiculous to wear it than it did to carry it. Plus it’s funny when fans dress up for the Draft. The new NFL Draft slogan should be :
“The NFL Draft, we’re all here because we’re not all there”
Big business saw this an opportunity to test the taste (and probably safety) of some new food products on this hungry, thirsty and weary bunch. The line was basically crop dusted with products they were trying to test out. Pepsi Next, some kind of disgusting honey mustard ruffle chip?
Now I know how monkeys at the L’Oreal testing lab feel like. If I grow a third arm soon, just know it was Pepsi Next related.
No matter what teams fans were walking by, this fenced in, bored, possibly not sober mob of fans from all over let them have it.
Chargers fan walks by? “Chargers suck!”
Post man walks by? “USPS sucks man!”
You can imagine the response when a platoon of confident Dolphins fans come through?
Not everyone was held hostage by experimental foods, some people simply ordered pizza in the line.
“Make sure it’s not a bomb!” one person yelled. The Boston Marathon bombing had happened a week prior and the spectre of it loomed large over this concentrated mass of sports fans with nothing but time on their hands.
When you enter the line, your bag is inspected. This pizza was handed over the fence, obviating that security measure. Thank God it was just pizza, but everyone stayed jumpy.
As time elapsed, people became more cavalier in their answers to nature’s call. This guy photo’d taking a leak was also drinking whisky and smoking weed (I really should have got a photo of the smoking) in line, so I guess he’s just bout that life.
As it got later and later, more reporters perused the line, trying to find the drunkest fan to look foolish on TV. It was like shooting fish in a barrel
Some network analysts started to show up and sign things. “The ’98 Vikings were my favorite team!” I yelled at Brian Billick.
Michael Irvin didn’t come as far down the line, but people near me were yelling stuff about cocaine towards him.
We finally got into Radio City Music Hall at around 9.20 to receive the Holy Grail that was this bracelet. Fans now had to spend 24 hours being terrified of anything happening to this paper shackle on their wrist. That part kind of sucked.
They also gave us a slice of pizza and a NFL Draft 2013 collapsable stool. Do you know when this stool would have come in handy? About five hours ago.
On my way out I bumped into Roger Goodell. “What happened to the missing 18 minutes of Spygate?” is what I wish I would have said. Maybe if I had time to prepare it could have been another “Frost/Nixon”, but it was more sudden than a Tavon Austin cut.
Instead I just shook his hand (while holding a half eaten slice of pizza and a collapsable stool in the other hand) and said something along the lines of “I’m glad there is a Jets fan in charge, you were a Jets fan growing up, right?”. to which he said he wasn’t a fan of any team. And that was the end. The next day we hopped right back in the saddle and got back in the same line for a another wait, except this time there was some light at the end of the tunnel, we knew the draft started at 6 o’clock. Radio City Music hall was pretty swank. It was funny seeing football fans milling around a theatre. The only time you see football and theatre mix is when Mark Sanchez is busy going to Broadway musicals instead of working hard.
On the way to our seats we got gift bags from the NFL.Is Lamar Odom the food and beverage director for Radio City Music Hall? There was only movie theatre-ish food and of course, no beer. I can understand the beer ban because it would be bad for business if a fan Geno Smith’d (unexpectedly fell) from the balcony.
The gift bags had deoderant in them. I’m assuming this is their way of saying “we know you have spent like eight of the past 24 hours in line and we know you didn’t take a shower since yesterday because you were afraid of your paper bracelet washing down the drain, you probably need this”.
They also came with an ear piece so you can listen to the broadcast of the draft. Now I feel like that old guy with the radio feed at the game. They aired a segment with Joe Namath. This leads to about 5000 simultaneous alcoholic jokes. The running themes were that Namath was responsible for the lack of alcohol at the event. Either the NFL either banned alcohol at the event because they knew he was coming or he simply drank all the alcohol in the building before everyone else got in. Stay classy New York. The 2013 NFL Draft blue chippers. They all would have a new team today except for one…. Fans have good taste in Raiders theme music. Is this “Weekend at
Al’s Bernies IV”?“The Jets are on the clock” has become a sports punchline. I wish I could say it wasn’t true, but it is. The saddest part of the Jets Day Blunders is all the evidence that Jets fans knew much better than the Jets decision makers. You hear that fans chanting “We want Sapp!”, and you see the Jets fan give a post draft interview in 1983 where he says “we all wanted Marino, but I guess the Jets knew something we didn’t”. I
nstead of letting fans text in to vote on the song selection for their team, how about letting Jets fans vote on the pick? Can we vote on this idea?
The difference between now and those years, this one has been characterized by analysts as a “flat draft”, meaning no one in the early first round stands out much more than anyone else. There was far from a consensus on who Jets fans wanted to take.
I have been banging the drum for Tavon Austin ever since the combine. In my eyes, the slot is the new sphere of warfare in the NFL. Until the last decade or so, going across the middle was about as safe as going across the 38th parallel in Korea, but rule changes and changes in public sentiment have turned that area into an autobahn. Austin is the perfect elixir for an offense that has more problems scoring than the 40 Year Old Virgin.
The Jets appear to have seen this too, unfortunately they banged the drum way too loud and made it clear that if you wanted Austin, you would have to cut in front of the Jets. Which is exactly what happened when the Rams enriched our division rival the Bills in a trade up to snag Austin a mere spot ahead of the Jets. I would love to play poker with Rex Ryan.
The Jets pick ended up being Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner. He was regarded as the top cornerback in the draft but slipped due to injury concerns. Jets fans were pretty happy with this pick. Injury concerns never really seem to derail Jets draft picks, it’s always the team passing on someone uber talented to reach for a “safer” pick, so this passes the smell test to me so far.
The Jets second selection of the first round would raise more eyebrows as the Jets would select Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson, a move that no one saw coming.
I made a pact with myself that I would be stoic and not show emotion during the Jets pick (unless is was Austin, then I would have started acting like Maury told me that I’m not the Father). I did’t have strong enough opinions on the rest and didn’t want footage to haunt me if I reacted inappropriately. It must be nice being Peter King, where you can just make horrible predictions with no repercussions whatsoever (he guessed one out of the 32 draft picks correctly in his final mock draft released hours before the draft. Don’t worry though, his checks are still coming in)
Historically speaking, Giants fans have had to wait a lot longer than Jets fans for their teams to make their draft selections.
(insert your own joke about this being the closest Jets fans are going to be to a Lombardi trophy)
After the Draft I caught up with TheJetsBlog.com‘s Brian Bassett and Corey Griffen to decompress after a long day with some cold ones at The West Way and some tacos on the corner of Avenue A and 2nd street. A nice finish to an exhaustingly rewarding 36 hours. TheJetsBlog.com ‘s esteemed Bent was with us in spirit.
To quote Geno Smith, “I’m not coming back to the draft tomorrow.” I would have liked to, but the line for tickets to day two has been long over.
Like Geno Smith, Brian and Corey were back at the draft the next day doing work for the Jets.
The first round of the NFL Draft is something all football fans should experience once, it’s not like the ticket price is prohibitive.
In the morning I woke up to a tweet from Corey, asking if I had seen myself on BustedCoverage.com. They did a write up on “Keeping it Real on the Line at the NFL Draft”. The last and largest photo was of myself. Their interpretation of this mass of dedicated fans was:
Thanks for “keeping it so real” and dropping by to strafe some of the most dedicated NFL fans with insults. Maybe you can slow down on your speedwalk by the line next year actually get to see what dedicated sports fan life is like.
If you were one if these “fame hungry, sweaty, ‘bro’ using, unmarried, sports radio calling, not getting laid” losers on line and wanted to chat with the author of the article, Joe Kinsey, have at it.
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