Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The NFL is hell-bent on returning to normal, starting with a live draft in scenic Cleveland

Last year’s surrealist triumph of a draft took place in a dizzying succession of live-streamed kitchens, living rooms, and basements. This year’s draft will take place in Cleveland. I prefer the former, but what do I know? I’m just a photo caption
Last year’s surrealist triumph of a draft took place in a dizzying succession of live-streamed kitchens, living rooms, and basements. This year’s draft will take place in Cleveland. I prefer the former, but what do I know? I’m just a photo caption
Photo: Getty Images

We’re kinda sorta trending towards normalcy, and the NFL Draft on April 29 in Cleveland will lean into that, consequences be damned. The NFL announced today in a press release that the draft will be live, in person, with actual live people, including commissioner Roger Goodell, prospects, and fans. Nothing will feel quite as welcome and normal as having football fans booing Goodell into oblivion every time he takes the stage.

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Taking place in downtown Cleveland, at what the release described as being “across iconic downtown Cleveland locations,” the draft will include FirstEnergy Stadium, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the Great Lakes Science Center. A quick look at Google Maps shows me that all three of these locations are next door to each other on the banks of Lake Erie, which will provide the backdrop for the Main Stage.

“Cleveland welcomes the 2021 NFL Draft to our city,” said mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Residents and visitors from around the world will experience Cleveland’s hospitality and see why our city continues to be a destination of choice for large-scale events. We look forward to working with the Cleveland Browns, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the NFL and our other partners to execute a safe, successful event in accordance with health and safety guidelines.”

The draft will be more “normal” to the viewers at home and for the front office personnel around the league as well. According to the release from NFL Communications, “club personnel involved in the selection process will be permitted to gather in a Draft Room at a location of their choosing, whether that be their facility or elsewhere while following appropriate protocols.”

To be fair, there were elements of last year’s NFL Draft that I enjoyed and will miss. Watching the front office personnel from teams around the league drafting from their homes with their loved ones around them was pretty cool, as opposed to the “war room” concept that we’re all accustomed to. The 2020 NFL Draft gifted us with Kliff Kingsbury in his absurdly lavish living room while wearing loafers without socks, as well as Bill Belichick’s dog Nike looking like a very good boy at the control center. We were also fortunate enough to see a very relaxed Roger Goodell in a recliner in his basement that looks like it came straight out of a frat house garage sale.

We were robbed of the Las Vegas draft in 2020 that was going to see little boats transport large players across the Bellagio Fountain, which would have been comedic gold. The NFL is giving the draft back to Vegas next year, and there better be boats, or I riot.