Ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes at the NFL draft?
A few Thursdays ago, I visited Radio City Musical Hall to take in the 2010 draft to confirm somewhat of what I knew, but more importantly learn mostly about what I didn't.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the home of The Rockettes was how many people it takes to run the NFL draft.
I am hesitant to put a number on it but we are talking hundreds of dedicated individuals.
There was the pre-draft meeting for the catering staff, and the numerous security staffers who had to handle not only the throngs of people entering the building, but maintain order on a barricaded red carpet that shut down traffic lanes in New York City.
After years of watching the NFL draft at home on television, I always wondered how they pulled off countless hours of coverage.
The answers are hard work and plenty of resources.
For example, the NFL Network was already broadcasting live hours before the draft begun.
I witnessed only one short break for the on-air talent in the eight hours of coverage that I was present for on Thursday. By the end of day two, primary analyst Mike Mayock had essentially lost his voice and now you know why.
The support staff works constantly, often by reapplying make-up and feeding the broadcast team information, as it becomes it available.
All of this takes place on an eight-foot or so high stage that leaves very little room for mistake. (Aside: I thought that if ESPN's Mel Kiper leaned back in his seat he might fall on me.)
Before I get to the actual draft selections, one essential thing to remember about the draft is that it functions as one big family reunion.
The reporters connect with other reporters they haven't seen since the league meetings or the Superbowl.
Former players link up with other players to check in on families and relive "the good ole days."
Sprinkled in between the chit-chat, is some perspective about the draft prospects, and what is required to play the position.
One such statement was made by Hall of Fame quarterback and current ESPN analyst Steve Young, "The difference in playing quarterback is that in college everyone is open; in the pros no one is open (so you need the physical tools to really throw the ball)," he said.
As for the selection of players, the public perception is that virtually no one knows who is picked until the name comes out of the commissioner Goodell's mouth.
That isn't completely true.
In addition to the team representatives who hands the selection card to the commissioner, there are select media insiders who are made aware of the selection at least a few moments in advance by a variety of means.
For example, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora was able to "scoop" a pick on several occasions.
Of course, the selected player is also on the phone with the prospective team before his name is announced, and that is shown on the twin jumbotrons at Radio City Music Hall, as well as on your television set at home.
So what happens with a player after he has been selected and he has chosen to attend the draft?
He is quickly brought in from the side of the stage to pose for pictures with the commissioner and hold up his new teams jersey with the number one on it.
After that, he is escorted with his family and guests back to the "green room."
The green room is essentially a staging area for the player, his family and guests, and his agents.
This year there were also former NFL players and assorted dignitaries and a few high profile media members allowed inside. However, most media members (including myself ) must wait for the player press conferences.
Typically, the player is made available to the media for a press conference approximately 15 minutes after he is selected by a team.
One surprising element of this process is the sheer intelligence of some questions and the sheer lunacy of others.
The best questions typically refer to the player’s background or for example whether the player can fill a new position, such as a college defensive end making the transition to college linebacker.
The worst question? Well, I haven't read every transcript of the player press conferences, but the winner might be, "Do you like salmon?"
Or, "A lot of rain up there (in Seattle,) do you have a raincoat?"
For the record, the player has never eaten salmon and owns a raincoat. I know that you were dying to know.
After roughly 10 minutes, one player is ushered out and a new one quickly arrives for his press conference.
Well, that's about all.
The draft wrapped up at about midnight. It's certainly a unique experience and one that is pretty entertaining if you enjoy hearing from professional and ex-professional football players for several hours.
Certainly, there was a palpable excitement in the air when the first overall draft pick quarterback Sam Bradford, was brought into the interview room.
The raw emotion when defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, cried about fulfilling the promise he made to his mother not to quit before she passed away after his freshman year at Oklahoma.
The sheer joy of defensive tackle Jared Odrick, after he realized a call from the 954 area code, meant being selected near the end of the first round by the Miami Dolphins.
The staff and facilities are first rate and the NFL draft is clearly worth the trip.
I can't wait for next year and look forward to gaining that green room access.