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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore