Editors Note: Broncos fan Ben Rubin was one the thousands who attended the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall last week. Here is his account of the event.
Each year, fans of all but one team reflect on the end of a season that probably came sooner than they wanted, or without the results they had dreamed of. As they think about what could have been, their thoughts quickly shift to what still could be, in the future, building their team through the NFL Draft.
After a couple weeks of feeling like they’re on top of the world, fans of the Super Bowl champs also start looking ahead towards the draft, the three-day event that keeps fans' interest high even during the offseason.
A few months ago, friends and I decided that we would try and check out this year’s draft live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Looking into it, we had two options; purchase the NFL’s On Location ticket package, which included some cool, but unnecessary extras for a hefty price, or we could wait in line outside the night before for free tickets.
Deciding to wait outside for tickets the night before definitely enhanced the experience. We got there around 8:15 p.m., a few hundred people in front of us, but assured by NFL employees outside that we would get a wristband. By 10 p.m. there were at least as many people behind us as in front, but I had heard the next day that all who were in line received their wristbands.
We waited in line for about three hours, surrounded by die-hard football fans. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was out talking to fans and signing enough autographs to work up a sweat, food and drinks were provided and reporters were out in full force.
Tickets were handed out randomly to those with wristbands the following day once the doors opened at about 6:45 p.m., and from there we entered a football fan’s paradise. Radio City is an amazing venue on its own, but when it’s decked out with NFL logos and a handful of TVs with NFL Network and ESPN playing, it’s even more exciting.
Finding our seats, we were greeted with a handout of an NFL Draft-themed draw-string bag filled with numerous gifts from sponsors and a radio device which enabled you to listen to either ESPN or the NFL Network’s coverage.
One of the coolest aspects of the draft was seeing so many fans of every team. I saw at least one fan from each team, with the most represented teams being the Jets, Giants, Eagles, Cowboys and Packers. The Broncos were well represented as well; I saw about 15 fans excluding myself, and I’m sure that only represents a fraction of the amount that showed.
Though I wasn’t too happy that we were picking so early, it gave us the opportunity to get more coverage than usual, and with Shannon Sharpe and John Lynch in attendance, there was more than enough Broncos talk around Radio City to keep me entertained.
Despite waiting up to 10 minutes between picks, I never found myself bored; listening to the coverage on the TVs, listening to the live interviews with the draftees, talking football with those around us and watching Goodell take the podium for each pick proved to be more than enough for the night to fly by.
The process to come back for the second day was a little annoying as we had to wait for the players to leave the building before we were able to get our wristbands, but by 12:30 a.m. we were able to leave knowing we’d be back the next day.
At the subway station and again on the train, we met PR guys for NFL teams who worked at the draft, and they seemed to genuinely enjoy their experience with the drafted players in attendance.
Day two was much more exciting from a personal standpoint, as the picks came in faster, we had more picks and it was easier to move up to the very front for our selection.
By chance, our first pick in the second round,
If Moore is even close to as talented as he is excited to be a Bronco, we have a Pro Bowl safety joining us next year. I also got the chance to take a picture with John Lynch before we left towards the end of the third round and took pictures of other famous alumni who walked by.
As a Broncos fan, I was very excited. I met our promising young safety and a former star at safety. As a football fan I was thrilled with the experience of being surrounded by energetic fans, sitting right next to the NFL Network desk with their crew, and watching the future stars of the NFL come to the stage and shake the commissioner (or an alumni’s) hand.
It may not be something I do every year, but I will definitely be back. The Broncos were well represented, but they were probably missing you. Take a few days off, enjoy New York City and make plans to attend the draft at some point in the future. You won’t regret it.