SBD/Issue 155/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Goodell Discusses Prospect Of Holding NFL Draft In Multiple Cities

Goodell Says Draft Could Move
Locations Between Days In Future

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that the league could entertain the "notion of holding the draft in multiple cities" in the coming years, according to Richard Deitsch of Goodell said, "We have talked about whether you move to a location, or maybe you move one day of the draft. If we are successful doing the draft on three days, that may be one alternative, to take one of those days and move it to a different location." Deitsch noted several cities other than N.Y. "have shown an interest in hosting" the NFL Draft, including L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Diego and Canton, Ohio. AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke "has been vocal about bringing the event to L.A.," which "would be an [attractive] option with its high celebrity quotient." Meanwhile, after holding the opening round of the draft on Thursday in primetime for the first time, Goodell on Friday "would not outright commit to a permanent move to primetime" for the NFL Draft, but he is "overjoyed at the ratings." Goodell: "Let's get through the draft and we'll evaluate all aspects of it, including talking to our clubs and seeing what worked and what has not. We'd like to wait until we have concluded with the entire event, but to see the kind of extraordinary increase in viewership I think does reinforce the idea that we can put the draft on a bigger platform, and that's great for everyone." Deitsch noted the "strongest detractors for the NFL switching from an afternoon to primetime draft were critics and viewers in the Pacific Time Zone," and Goodell said that the "possibility of changing the starting time of a primetime draft would be considered." Goodell: "We don't want anyone to miss the draft, so that is part of what we will evaluate. Maybe there is a better start time. We will look at all of that" (, 4/23).

LOOKING OUT FOR NUMBER ONE: In Ft. Worth, Charean Williams noted Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban last week "voiced his displeasure at the NFL moving its draft to prime time, pitting it against the NBA's playoffs," but Goodell Friday said that he "had not heard or read Cuban's comments." Goodell "shrugged when told Cuban said the NFL wasn't 'playing themselves out to be a good partner.'" Goodell: "I'm not under any responsibility to wait for somebody else to do something successfully. Our responsibility is the NFL. Let's go take care of (ourselves), and that's what we do. We don't assume that our success will continue. We actually assume there are going to be lots of challenges out there, so let's figure out ways to do it better before we have to" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/24).

STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION:'s Peter King said he would be "very surprised" if the league did not again hold the draft in primetime next year. King: "I don’t know how you can do much better than the first round in a neatly TV-packaged time of a little over three hours. It was perfect for TV that ended right at the time for the 11:00 news back on the East Coast. The NFL couldn’t have asked for anything better. ... It fits perfectly in that primetime window" ("PTI," ESPN, 4/23). In Baltimore, Peter Schmuck wrote of holding the draft in primetime, "The bottom line for me was whether it was more entertaining than the old two-day format, and it certainly was. The opening round clearly had a more dynamic feel to it, and not just because the NFL squeezed the time between picks from 15 minutes to 10" (Baltimore SUN, 4/25). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the primetime draft “really worked." Cowlishaw: "The first round went quickly. It kept moving and when it was over you were ready for the 2nd round” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN2, 4/23). In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote, "If Thursday night is an indicator, the league can pawn off one of its seven rounds on each night of the week and dominate the TV landscape from Monday through Sunday. ... It appears NFL interest, coupled with college fans' desire to see where their favorite players are headed, creates a perfect storm" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/24). ESPN's Trevor Matich said of moving the draft to Thursday, "You know what this is about? It’s about the Benjamins, and you know what? It is succeeding brilliantly in that regard, and if the players don't like having to wait another 24 hours between the first and the second rounds, they can just learn to deal with it" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 4/23).

MAN OF THE HOUR: In N.Y., Mark Hale reports Goodell "chatted with fans of NFL teams" at a Saturday fan forum at Radio City Music Hall. Some Giants season-ticket holders said that Goodell "addressed such issues as the 2014 Super Bowl coming to New York, guaranteed player contracts and the importance of having the league become even fan friendlier" (N.Y. POST, 4/26). Meanwhile, USA TODAY's Nate Davis lists Goodell among the "winners" from the draft. He "presided over the event with his usual aplomb and clearly connected with the players." Davis: "Did Paul Tagliabue ever get bear hugs from the rookies?" Goodell also deserves credit for "looking after the players." Prospect Brandon Ghee, who was invited to N.Y. by the NFL, was not selected until late in the third round, but "Goodell ensured he was back on the dais to announce Ghee's selection, whispered words of encouragement to him and posed for pictures with the youngster" (USA TODAY, 4/26). ESPN's Chris Berman said of Goodell, “It doesn’t take very long to realize he’s the most normal guy in the room” (“NFL Draft,” ESPN2, 4/23).

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