Our NFL Alumni ranks were well represented and very visible last weekend in Kansas City during the highly successful NFL Draft that was held in that city for the first time.
- Local officials estimated more than 300,000 fans attended the Draft in person at the Union Station venue during one of the three days the event was held. “Those few days at the end of last week certainly exceeded our expectations,” says Kansas City Sports Commission President Kathy Nelson.
- The NFL is promoting the fact that 54 million-plus fans across the country watched at least a portion of the Draft on either television or a digital device.
- The Draft festivities on Thursday kicked off when the 3rd Annual Alumni Draft & Pro-Am golf tourney was held to benefit the NFL Player Care Foundation and local Alumni chapters. Danan Hughes, Jan Stenerud, and Paul Coffman were among the two dozen alumni who teed off in this fund-raising event.
- The NFL Player Care Foundation (PCF) in conjunction with NFL Alumni on Friday offered a Healthy Body & Mind Screening and Assessment program. Four dozen alumni, including 30 first-timers, took advantage of the free series of private & confidential cardiovascular and prostate screenings as well as advice on mental health resources and education.
- Also on Friday, 30 alumni announced their former team’s second and third-round draft picks in the prime-time session televised by four separate national networks. Alums such as Drew Pearson (Cowboys), Alan Faneca (Steelers), and DeMarcus Ware (Broncos) did their best to rally their team’s fans in attendance (…and, yes, perhaps to aggravate their rival teams’ fans as well). It was all in great fun!
The Draft has evolved from the 1960s when there were two competing leagues and the NFL Draft announcements were made quietly in a small hotel ballroom in New York to a handful of sportswriters. However, the real work was being done behind the scenes at a second hotel down the street. It was the time of NFL “baby-sitters”, businessmen who were assigned by Commissioner Pete Rozelle’ office to make sure that top draft-eligible collegians did not sign with the rival AFL. Many of you were drafted and signed (sometimes, secretly) by one league or another during that 1960-66 period.
The Draft moves to Detroit next year and Michigan officials were in attendance in Kansas City last week to see how they could raise the bar even higher in terms of fan enjoyment and television entertainment. Odds are they will do exactly that with the help of the hometown Lions and the local NFL Alumni chapter!