The tradition of booing Roger Goodell at the draft started in 2011 at Radio City Music Hall during the NFL lockout and could return to New York as early as 2019.
The booing went up a notch when the league took the draft on the road to Chicago the last two years and could reach new decibel levels and be off the charts in boo-happy Philadelphia in two weeks.
The NFL has yet to announce where Goodell will be booed in 2018 – I mean the NFL has not yet announced where the 2018 draft will be held – but it won’t be back in New York.
However, league sources told the Daily News on Wednesday that New York has expressed interest in hosting in 2019 and beyond.
The draft is a made-for ESPN and NFL Network event, so in reality it doesn’t matter if it is held in Donald Trump’s backyard at the Florida White House in Mar-a-Lago or on Broadway.
There was always something precious seeing the Jets draftniks ready to jump off the balcony at Radio City – and before that at the Roosevelt Hotel, the Marriott Marquis, the Theater at MSG and the Javits Center – after another insanely stupid draft pick. Even better was how they dressed for the occasion. Giants fans usually had more to cheer about on draft day.
If Jets fans want to celebrate or vent about what the team does with the sixth overall pick this year, they will either have to host parties or do a road trip and head down the Jersey Turnpike.
An NFL source told the Daily News on Wednesday that:
– There is no timeline for announcing who will host the 2018 draft, but it won’t be until after the April 27-29 event in Philly. And New York has not made a bid.
– More important, New York, which hosted the draft every year from 1965-2014, is now just one of several cities competing for future drafts beginning in 2019. At least New York is on the list. Radio City seems the likely venue but there could be others, especially with the Philly draft being held outdoors. The bad news: The NFL now loves rotating the host city every year or every two years so it’s hard to say what New York’s chances are of bringing it back.
The other cities in contact with the league to host the draft: Philadelphia (again?), Canton, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Green Bay, Jacksonville and Los Angeles.
Jerry Jones wants to bring the draft to his brand-new state-of-the-art Cowboys training complex in Frisco, Tex. What Jerry wants, Jerry usually gets. Canton is a natural because it is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The NFL will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020 and the Hall has applied to host the draft in 2019 and/or 2020. The Hall of Fame has undergone massive renovations in recent years and it seems logical the owners will award at least one draft.
Unless the Rams or Chargers become relevant, the NFL must find other ways to boost interest in its return to Los Angeles. Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s new $2.6 billion stadium, which will host both teams, is scheduled to open in 2019 with the Super Bowl already being awarded for the game following the 2020 season. Los Angeles seems another lock to get the draft.
So, where does that leave New York? Feeling a cold draft from the NFL, perhaps for a while.
Three years ago, a scheduling conflict with a planned spring show at Radio City – thanks, Jim Dolan, who owns the iconic theater on Sixth Avenue – forced the NFL to move the draft back two weeks until May 8-10. The powers on Park Avenue were not pleased.
The spring show was subsequently cancelled, but it was too late for the NFL to move back to its desired spot in late April. Then when Radio City officially informed the league that the venue was being used for a spring show in 2015, the league gave up and picked Chicago over Los Angeles to host in 2015. There were no other acceptable venues in the New York area. Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Prudential Center in Newark were ruled out because of potential basketball and hockey playoff conflicts. Chicago hosted again last year.
“There is no question that New York provides a level of media exposure that would be hard to replicate elsewhere,” a league source once told me. “At the same time, there is a question whether Radio City can remain a long-term host for the event because they are developing new shows and new things all the time.”
There had been lots of talk before the Radio City conflict that with the draft being the second biggest NFL event after the Super Bowl that Goodell wanted to start rotating cities to give fans outside of New York a chance to experience in person the thrill of their team blowing its first round pick. Why should the pleasure be limited to Jets fans?
Now bidding to host the draft has become as competitive as hosting the Super Bowl. Teams and cities propose elaborate plans to make the NFL feel even more special than it already does. But…there is only one New York.
Philadelphia has hosted the draft 11 times, including the initial draft in 1936. It has not been in Philly since 1961. This year’s draft will be held in an outdoor theater being constructed next to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Drafted players will walk down a red carpet from the museum into the theater. No word yet if Rocky will be make any picks.
When Goodell was booed for the third straight day last year in Chicago, he stood on the podium encouraging the fans with his hands to keep it going. “Come on, bring it on,” he said. When they obliged, he said, “There you go. There you go.”
Goodell will have competition on the boo-meter in two weeks. The Eagles gave up the 12th pick in the first round to the Browns in the Carson Wentz trade but got back the 14th overall pick fromthe Vikings in the Sam Bradford trade. If the Eagles fans don’t like the Birds pick, they will not be shy about voicing their displeasure.
Remember, Eagles fans once booed Santa Claus, but it’s April, so presumably there won’t be any snowballs to toss.