Was it nice to have a live sporting event to watch this weekend or what?
The virtual NFL Draft, spanning Thursday through Saturday, was just what I, along with a record-setting 15.6 million viewers – for the first round – needed.
There was the virtual WNBA Draft last week and a few virtual NASCAR races that took place during quarantine, but those were single day/night events only.
The NFL Draft was a three-day event that marked the first time a live sporting event took place in consecutive days since the MLB, NBA, NCAA, and NHL halted play on March 11.
As a sports enthusiast and a diehard Philadelphia Eagles fan, the Draft is something I watch every year, but this time, it was appointment television.
With little to no sports taking place at the moment, my wife and I planned our evening schedule – which currently consists of us making and eating dinner, going on a walk around the neighborhood, having Zoom and FaceTime calls with friends and family and bathing our three-week-old baby and putting him to bed – around it and thoroughly enjoyed every second of the production.
From getting a glimpse into the homes of the draftees, general managers, head coaches, and media members to seeing the initial reaction of the players when they heard their named called, the show – from a viewer’s standpoint – ran as smooth as ever, all while being quite entertaining.
Nervousness, frustration, euphoria, and disappointment are among the emotions a fan goes through when tuning into a sporting event.
I think I forgot what each of those felt like, but this weekend, they came rushing back.
Being an Eagle fan, and knowing just how important it was that the team drafted multiple offensive weapons for Carson Wentz, the nerves of seeing some of the top wide receivers slipping down the board put sweat back into the palms of my hands for the first time in a long, long while.
Sitting at Pick No. 21 and with Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb still available at Pick No. 16, the thought of him falling to the Eagles had me giddy.
However, that emotion quickly turned to frustration when Philadelphia didn’t use some of its draft capital to trade with the Atlanta Falcons at No. 16, allowing the dreaded Dallas Cowboys to add Lamb to its roster with the next selection.
But LSU wideout Justin Jefferson, the next best option, in my opinion, was still out there and ready to be had.
The nerves returned with the hope that he would be there when the Eagles were on the clock.
I looked to my wife with all sorts of excitement on my face. Carson was getting his franchise receiver after all.
Not so fast.
“With the 21st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft,” commissioner Roger Goodell said from the comfort of his basement, “the Philadelphia Eagles select Jalen Reagor, wide receiver, TCU.”
Jefferson went the very next pick to the Minnesota Vikings.
The level of discouragement I felt on Thursday was nowhere near how I felt on Friday when the Eagles picked a backup quarterback in the second round. (Note: I’ve come all the way around on the Reagor pick. Still scratching my head on selecting Jalen Hurts with a top-55 pick, though).
But the point is, I, along with so many others, got to feel what it was to be a fan again.
I have to admit, it was nice to worry about trivial things such as how players will fit in a particular system, the draft hauls teams came away with, and the grade given to each organization by various media outlets for about 15 hours over a three-day period.