Drifting at the NFL Draft: A truly American spectacle

 

Deadline Day in the UK is a fairly laid back affair. Reporters and cameramen huddle around the gates of football grounds chugging lukewarm coffee from a polystyrene cup and waiting for managers to roll up in their 4x4s, only for them to usually offer a terse "no news as yet" before winding up the window and driving off.

Draft Day, the NFL equivalent, is nothing short of a spectacle however, functioning like the Oscars, the keynote speech of a conference and a New Years' countdown party all rolled into one.

On the first night of the three-day event, New York's W 50th street is a maze of barriers, trailers, news vans, police, fans, baffled onlookers and celebrities being ushered in back doors. When I finally get inside the venue, Radio City Music Hall, after at least five rounds of accreditation checks and concerned looks from officials (I don't exactly look the ESPN type), the place throbs with ardent fans from across the country who have travelled miles not to see their team play but just to get a glimpse of the player who might bolster their chances this season. Texans fans were out in force (All pictures: Grant Sheridan)

Interest in it seems to be universal, online sports sites in the press den feverishly tweet about the politics of pick swaps that I can only nod to and insist that I understand when I ask them to explain it, while more showbiz-centric publications are focused on the stories developing off the clock.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel aka 'Johnny Football' is the main focus of attention, known as much for his ability to throw back a shot as throw forward a football, who despite having yet to even enter the National Football League has already achieved celebrity status. He's even been name-checked in Drake's most recent song Draft Day (to which he boastfully walks out on stage), and it becomes very hard to imagine something similar ever happening in the UK  (the lyric 'Deadline Day, Frank Lampard' just isn't the stuff of dancefloor-shattering hip hop tracks).

Michael Sam is the other player that has TMZ and the like a-tapping, the first openly gay player who everyone I talk to seems convinced is going to have a tough time in the Draft because of this, apparently forgetting that this is 2014, and signing the first openly gay player will no doubt serve as a fantastic PR boost to any team.

New picks are unveiled every 10 minutes - at each interval all cameras spinning to the selected player for the tears and hugs you come to expect of a Best Actor announcement. In between these moments there isn't  actually a huge amount of action and the stage largely remains empty, but does this take the wind out of the event's sails? Of course not! 'Murica! Every possible eventuality is mused over by sportscasters who look almost fresh out of a mould in their identical suits, feeding the fast-paced atmosphere of the coverage over the three days like absolute pros. Fans pose with the Vince Lombardi trophy A keen Raiders fan

The stop-and-start nature of the Draft is not unlike the game of American Football itself, which is what turns some people off about the game. But it's actually the beauty of it - it's not a sport to be transfixed on non-stop for 90 minutes before finally exhaling but one to sit back with, draw in and mull over with buds and Buds.

It's appeal is clearly growing too, with the demand for overseas games increasing every year and the calibre of teams the NFL persuades to London only climbing. At the current rate it won't be long until 'American Football' transcends its nationally binding epithet and becomes as much 'World Football' as soccer has.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence