Goodell Confirms Date Change For Draft; Event Could Move From N.Y. In Future
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday indicated that the league is "taking a harder look" at moving the NFL Draft out of Radio City Music Hall after '14, and "possibly out of New York entirely," according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com. Goodell said, "If we want to move the draft back into the April period, we're going to have to look at other alternatives. Other cities, other venues." Goodell confirmed that the Draft "will be moved back to May because of a scheduling conflict" and said that he "wouldn't expect to revisit New York locations the league has used in the past" (NFL.com, 5/21). Goodell said, "At this late stage for us to do it the right way, we don't see any other choice but to move the date. We're looking to see if we can do it as early as May 8th, 9th or 10th to the 15th, 16th or 17th of May." CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson noted the scheduling conflict is "apparently an annual one that will continually push the NFL out of its draft slot." As for the "other events you might expect to see moved, nothing is concrete yet." Goodell said that he will meet with the NFLPA to "discuss the possibility of moving the start of the league year, moving the combine, etc., and said he believes the league 'thinks there's great benefit' to moving them." Goodell confirmed the union would have to "approve any change to the start of the league year" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/21).
REASON FOR DOUBT? SI.com's Don Banks noted the Draft will be pushed back due to a "Spring Spectacular" show being held at Radio City, and there is "more than a reasonable doubt within the league about the wisdom of adopting such a change on a long-term basis, as is being contemplated." A source said, "You'd be hard-pressed to find any football-side person in the league in favor of it. Unless you consider having more time for draft preparation a benefit, more time for paralysis by analysis, there's nothing to like. I've tried to think of one (positive), but I haven't yet.'' To the "idea that the league is taking this step with the draft only because an Easter-season show booked the venue that the NFL has owned in late April for the past eight years, that rationale is being met with a healthy amount of skepticism, to say the least." A source said, "The league coming out and saying this is because of the Easter Bunny and the show is almost embarrassing. This is the NFL. You think we couldn't get those dates or make something work if we really wanted to?" (SI.com, 5/21).
TAKE A CHILL PILL: In Boston, Ben Volin notes Giants President & CEO John Mara has a "message for critics of the plan to push back the NFL Draft to May and stretch out the offseason activities over a longer period of time: Chill out." Mara said, “It changes the way we’ve been doing things for years, but I don’t think it’s a big deal" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/22). In DC, Babb & Maske note pushing the Draft back to May "not only resolves a scheduling snafu," it also "represents a convenient way for the NFL to take its latest step toward a master plan of dominating the sports calendar." Yesterday's announcement could "expand pro football’s presence throughout the year -- and provide additional proof that the NFL, with its own powerful television network and a draft that’s more popular than other sports’ playoff games, is taking over the sports world." The NFL is "interested in pushing its popular scouting combine ... from late-February to mid-March, and moving the start of free agency from March to early April." The league also has raised the "possibility of further pushing back the Super Bowl, possibly to as late as the President’s Day weekend in mid-February." Goodell "technically could change the dates of the draft without the NFL Players Association’s consent." But he said that he "wants the entire process to be done cooperatively." Goodell: "This is not secretive. We share what the overall strategy is, what we’re trying to accomplish, with the players. We went to them initially to do that, to get their feedback. And we want to make sure we do it right, and that includes getting player input in that" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/22). SI.com's Peter King wrote it is "ridiculous" to use the excuse of a scheduling conflict to move the Draft. To say the NFL "couldn't find another place at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn or any one of a score of other options in New York is insulting to the intelligence of any thinking person." King: "Say what it is: three more weeks to hype the most ridiculously overhyped event on the NFL calendar. Three more weeks for spring-programming-starved NFL Network to be relevant" (SI.com, 5/21).
HEADING INLAND? Goodell said that the Pro Bowl could "move to a mainland city as early as 2015." The HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER noted the game will be played in Hawaii in '14, but the NFL has "not made a commitment for the next game." Goodell also said that the NFL may "debut changes in the Pro Bowl format" this year in an effort to make the game "more exciting" (STARADVERTISER.com, 5/21).