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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said that officials from several cities "have spoken to him about moving the draft" and he would not "rule out changing venues, perhaps as early as next year," according to Bob Glauber of NEWSDAY. Goodell: "We want to share the draft experience with as many communities as possible. There's been a lot of interest in Chicago and Los Angeles -- and other markets by the way -- from the mayor on down." He said that the league "wouldn't immediately have a formal bidding process for hosting the draft." Instead, it "would be a decision made at the league level" -- at least for now. Goodell: "We will probably hand pick our solution for next year. At some point we may get to that stage (of bids). But we want to balance the experience we've had here at Radio City." Goodell "wouldn't rule out keeping the draft at Radio City, and it's possible the event could be held in New York and another location in the same year." Radio City "might host the event the first day or two, and then the draft could move to another city for additional rounds." The NFL is "anxious to examine the television ratings, since this year's draft will be held in the critical May ratings period" (NEWSDAY, 5/8). NFL Senior VP/Communications Greg Aiello last night tweeted, "We're close to a dozen cities and counting that have expressed interest in hosting the Draft. Some contacted our office today" (TWITTER.com, 5/7). Goodell said "two [of the] most aggressive" are Chicago and L.A., "but we've heard from a few other mayors." NFL Network's Rich Eisen asked if the draft format would be expanded beyond the current three days if the event moved to a different market. Goodell replied, jokingly, "What's wrong with seven rounds in seven nights? Goodell: "It's probably a three or four-day draft, and seven rounds in that time period" ("The Rich Eisen Draft Special," NFL Network, 5/6).
BETWEEN A ROCKETTE & A HARD PLACE: In N.Y., Bart Hubbuch cites a source as saying that the NFL is "in deep discussions about moving the draft -- either half of it or the entire thing -- to one of eight cities that have expressed interest." The source said that the cities "are New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando, Arlington, Texas, and Canton, Ohio," home of the Pro Football HOF. The source said that the NFL is "open to moving the draft because it is exasperated by the unwillingness of the owners of Radio City -- James Dolan’s Cablevision -- to say whether a planned Rockettes spring show is still a go" for '15 (N.Y. POST, 5/8). The MMQB's Peter King said he is fine with moving the draft around the country, because "why should it always be in New York?" King: "It would take the NFL out of its sort of insular New York cocoon and give other fan groups a chance to experience it" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/6).
HOSTS WITH THE MOST: In Boston, Gayle Fee notes Mayor Marty Walsh "rang up" Goodell and "made a play to be the new host of the annual pigskin beauty pageant." Walsh in a statement said, "As a Patriots season ticket holder, I’d love to host the NFL draft in Boston. We have the resources and infrastructure to do it -- the hotels, convention space, the tourism amenities -- and we would welcome the opportunity." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that Walsh and Goodell "discussed what venues in the city might be available to host the draft -- which typically draws some 3,500 fans and at least 1,000 media types" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/8). Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he is "dead-serious" about bringing the draft to the city. Emanuel: "You know my goal: 55 million visitors and tourists in Chicago. Moving Chicago from fifth-place to second place in the convention industry" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 5/8). Saints Exec VP & GM Mickey Loomis: "I don't necessarily have an opinion (on moving the draft). That's not going to change what I do. We're going to be here. If it's good for the league and brings positive attention and gives another city a chance to host, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm for it" (NOLA.com, 5/7).
The NFL in moving the draft "probably thought a two-week delay would only heighten the hype, build the buzz, and enhance the suspense,” but it has had the “opposite effect,” according to Christopher Gasper of the BOSTON GLOBE. It has been “dragged out in the name of NFL excess” and “created an NFL dead zone.” It "feels like a football filibuster, as the emergency brake got pulled on the offseason." The "paradox of the NFL’s decision to push the draft back to May is that most of the changes that have been made to the draft format since 2008 have been designed to expedite the proceedings." Meanwhile, the "overmining of the draft for exposure could get worse," as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has "floated the idea of expanding the draft to four days." The NFL is "acting like a self-absorbed selfie sharer who thinks even the mundane activities it is engaged in should be of utmost interest to the masses" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/8). Goodell, asked about reaction to the later date, said, "I think everyone's anxious for it. Everyone wants it to happen, most particularly, our teams. ... I think fans in general are ready for it . ... There's been a clock that everyone's used to and change is difficult for people" ("The Rich Eisen Draft Special," NFL Network, 5/6).
OUT OF PLACE: ESPN's Bill Polian said, "Heaven help us" if the NFL pushes back the NFL Draft another week next year. Polian: "To add three more weeks to it would really be pushing the envelope from a football standpoint, and I'm not sure that it's worth whatever the marketing advantage would be." He added, “The Draft, when it was at the end of April, fell in the perfect niche. The Kentucky Derby was a week away. The Final Four was over. The hockey and basketball playoffs had not begun in earnest, and baseball was just beginning. So the Draft had its own little spot there, where it took up all of the oxygen in the sports world.” Polian: “Now, the Kentucky Derby has already been won, and we're talking about a potential Triple Crown winner, the playoffs are really heating up and the series are great. Baseball is on in earnest and now we've got the Draft. It seems to me as though it's out of sync" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/7).
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: The MMQB's Peter King said, "By the time (the drafted players) get to their teams it'll be four-and-a-half months since the end of the regular season and only three-and-a-half months to opening day of next season. The draft was never meant ... to be this late." King said there is "no reason for the draft to be past the middle of April." King: "The league has to stop thinking about hype and TV ratings and more about the reality of football" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/6). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kevin Clark writes the extra time is "making teams dumber." Bills GM Doug Whaley: "We're tired of thinking about it. Banging our heads against the wall." This year, many teams have "discovered that relentless overthinking has crept in and damaged their ability to properly evaluate players." Chargers GM Tom Telesco: "You have to be careful that you don't stare at the board for too long" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/8).
NOT THE RIGHT MOVE: THE MMQB's Robert Klemko writes under the header, "Holding The NFL Draft In May Is A Bust." The league "cherishes its traditional late April draft date no more than it cherishes extra revenue, and pushing the draft back keeps the NFL relevant and the money flowing during a time when America would otherwise be focused on the NBA and NHL playoffs." A May draft "amplifies viewership for the league’s media outlets and partners who cover the draft with a longer run-up." But with the draft "currently being held the week rookie minicamps would have begun, first-year players don’t have the same amount of time to prepare for training camp." NFL player agent Steve Caric: "That's the biggest problem. These guys should have playbooks in hand already." Klemko notes while some agents "worry about their players’ on-field chances, others worry about what they’re getting into off the field." A May draft means "two more weeks of living on borrowed money." Caric said, "I've heard about guys -- not mine -- taking out more money in these last two weeks" (MMQB.SI.com, 5/8). In DC, Deron Snyder writes keeping the draft in May "expands the NFL calendar" and the league "wants to stretch itself to the snapping point" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/8). But ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said, "I don't think it makes any difference. All it does is sort of extend everything, makes poor Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have to work even harder and redo their drafts all over again." ESPN's Pablo Torre: "You can put it on whatever time you want and people will be obsessed with it" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/6).
BACK IN MY DAY...: In Detroit, Mitch Albom writes the buildup "is out of control." The drafts "used to take place, minus camera, in a single day -- not stretched over a ridiculous two nights and a Saturday." Albom: "And guess what? The results were EXACTLY THE SAME! Teams drafted new players" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/8). In N.Y., Ken Belson writes once a "sleepy roll call for football insiders that took place in smoke-filled hotel ballrooms, the draft has turned into the highlight of the league’s increasingly cluttered off-season." It is a "marketing machine that feeds the seemingly insatiable desire for information about the nation’s most popular sport." Two networks and "more than 1,000 members of the news media will cover this year’s event at Radio City Music Hall, which amounts to a beauty contest rolled into a high-stakes lottery" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8).
MLB players will be "allowed to use pink bats with logos from any MLB-approved manufacturer on Mother’s Day, ending a controversy that arose last season and clouded baseball’s efforts to raise awareness for breast cancer," according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSPORTS.com. The decision "reverses a stipulation from the past two years that required players to use only Mother’s Day bats with logos from Louisville Slugger, the baseball partner that helped create the breast-cancer initiative" in '06. Two sons of breast-cancer survivors, Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe and Orioles RF Nick Markakis, were told last season that MLB "would not permit them to use black bats with pink logos from their bat manufacturer, MaxBat, on Mother’s Day." Plouffe said that he "used the bat anyway and then spoke during the off-season" with MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark about "finding an alternate solution." MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said, "The cause is to draw attention to the scourge of breast cancer. The commissioner just reached a decision, issued a mandate to us to come up with a solution that got us back to the purpose of doing pink on Mother’s Day to begin with, which is to call attention to the need to eradicate breast cancer in our lifetime." Rosenthal noted under the new rules, companies "no longer will be required to donate to a breast-cancer charity if they make pink bats for use on Mother’s Day, though such contributions will be strongly encouraged." Markakis said, "It’s good that Major League Baseball stepped back, took a look at it and realized that it’s OK for everybody to do it. It’s for a good cause." Louisville Slugger VP/Corporate Communications Rick Redman said that the company "had no problem with baseball’s revised position" (FOXSPORTS.com, 5/7).