This year’s NFL Draft took place in Chicago April 28th-April 30th and I had the great opportunity to go as a fan on Thursday to represent Black and Teal and to rep for the Jaguars. I then also had the great opportunity to volunteer for the NFL on Friday for rounds 2-3 in the auditorium theature.
I attended the draft last year, but this year’s version was bigger and better and drew over 200,000 people over the 3 day event. The Monday before the draft, I had to go to Soldier Field to attend training to be a volunteer for the NFL. While I was there, I had the opportunity to meet Bears chairman George McCaskey and talk to him for a little while. I was the only person there in Jaguars gear and several league staff members noticed and brought me a Jaguars mini helmet and talked to me about the potential of the Jaguars for this upcoming season.
On Thursday I spent most of the day walking around Draft Town , which was located all over Grant Park across from the auditorium theatre. I was dressed head to toe in Jaguars gear and definitely stood out in the crowd. I was stopped probably 30 to 40 times throughout the day by other fans who wanted their picture with me.
One of the coolest parts of the day was being stopped by three different TV Stations who wanted to interview me about my outfit. I was stopped by Fox 32 out of Chicago, Fox 11 out of Green Bay, and First Coast News out of Jacksonville. I really didn’t expect my outfit to draw that much attention, but being a Jaguars fan in the Chicago area is a rarity so that caught a lot of people’s eyes.
Another cool moment was meeting Jaguars legend Fred Taylor and chat with him for a few minutes. He is a really down to earth and he loved the Jaguars outfit I had on.
After spending all day in “Draft Town”, it was time to head into the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University for round 1 of the NFL Draft. The theatre itself is not particularly large, with a maximum capacity of 3,901, so it made all the seats a great view for the draft. There was a lot of anticipation and energy in the building leading up the first pick. Every year you always see Roger Goodell get booed by the crows, but to experience in person was a whole nother experience. Watching it on TV doesn’t do it justice for how loud the boos really were as it echoed all throughout the theatre. That continued for every pick throughout the entire first round.
Me and Fred Taylor
The first two picks were no surprise with Jared Goff going to the Rams and Carson Wentz to the Eagles. The surprise came with Joey Bosa going number 3 to the Chargers and then with Dallas on the clock everyone thought the pick would be Jalen Ramsey. When they took Ezekial Elliot I jumped and cheered because I knew we were going to get Ramsey, who was number 1 on the Jaguars draft board. When the pick was officially announced, I jumped for joy and the fans by me were all cheering and happy for me as well. Everyone there realized what a great talent he was and was surprised he was there at number 5 for the Jaguars to select.
On day two of the draft, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the NFL inside the auditorium theatre for rounds 2 and 3. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes is incredible and being able to be apart of the NFL for a day was an opportunity I won’t soon forget. My main role was to work inside the theatre to answer any fans questions about seating and to help any NFL staff with getting to certain areas of the theatre auditorium. When the Jaguars traded up in the 2nd round to select Myles Jack I stopped what was I doing and couldn’t help but clap and cheer. Everyone seemed to be surprised he fell that low and a lot of fans were telling me how they think the Jags will be a team to watch out for.
Overall, it was a great few days at the Draft and I am so glad I had the chance to be there as a fan and a volunteer. After being in Chicago the last two years, the Draft will not be returning there in 2017. Even though I wish it was coming back, I really think that every NFL city should have the chance to host the Draft. Its a great opportunity for fans who would never get the chance to usually attend the Draft to experience it first hand.