When I moved to New York eight months ago, one of my first thoughts was that I would be going to a place where things actually happened. You know, where all the stuff that happens on TV is really taking place. Sure, I’d had a similar experience in Columbia, Missouri, specifically on the night Mizzou beat Oklahoma. I watched the goalposts being torn down just before I left to pick my girlfriend up from work at the hospital. Ten minutes later, I was at a stop light when the goalpost came trotting down the street in front of me, heading for Harpo’s and its immanent slicing and distribution.
But New York is something different. The things that happen here tend to have a broader scope, a more national reach, and I wanted to be there for at least some of them. That’s why I spent most of yesterday evening in line to get tickets to the NFL draft. Or, more accurately, to get a wristband that would allow me to get tickets the next day.
I’ve watched the all-day draft coverage on television or the internet since I was in college. I’ve done my best to catch all of the picks, although I admit to missing more of it since the NFL decided to change from a Saturday-Sunday format to the current Thursday-Friday-Saturday model. But I still enjoy the coverage, as much for the background noise as for the actual picks. This is partially because I am a Cleveland Browns fan, and watching the draft for me tends to be a mix of watching players I like go to other teams while my team makes confusing choices in both picks and trades. It’s best not to get too invested.
The procedure for getting into the draft is relatively straightforward. Tickets are free, but they will cost you a bit of time (and dignity). The wristbands were to be distributed at 9pm. I got to Radio City Music Hall at 5:00, and I was probably about 200 people back, which it turns out wasn’t so bad. The mix of people waiting near me was quite interesting. There were the requisite megafans, young and old, short and tall, fat and extremely fat, all wearing their newly-purchased team jerseys. There were professionals who probably came right from work. The crowd was primarily men, as one might expect, although there were a few women (all of whom seemed to be accompanying their husbands/boyfriends/captors).
I brought books to pass the time, and made it most of the way through Harlan Coben’s Drop Shot before I made it inside. Most of the others were talking football, talking basketball, or just talking about nothing. One man sat directly in front of me and was working on his laptop, trying to figure out how his company was missing $180,000. I was tempted to ask if he worked for Flying J, but I didn’t.
It was a little embarrassing to be in line at times, however. At one point, two women holding hands walked past the line, which prompted a boisterous cheer of “We Love Lesbians,” and while I’d love to attribute their enthusiasm to support of the LGBTQ community, I’m pretty sure they just wanted to see them kiss. This spawned a whole range of cheers, from calling on women to expose their breasts to generally creeping women out by asking them to slow down, come over, talk for a minute, etc. I just pushed my nose into my book and waited for the line to move.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an event without swag, and let me tell you, I made out like a bandit. I got a bag of honey mustard-flavored Ruffles, a can of Pepsi Next, a rally towel, a slice of pizza, and a precarious camp stool, all for the price of nuthin’. Except, you know, waiting outside for four hours. In reality, the chips were good, the soda went to someone who doesn’t mind the taste of sucralose, the towel was kind of neat, the pizza was nice, and the stool was all right, if a little unstable. And the line ended up moving faster than I’d expected: I had my ticket, got a quick walk through the floor of Radio City, and was back on the street with pizza in my hand before it even turned 9pm. The standing didn’t seem that long thanks to a decent book, and it was a quick jump back onto the train to get back to my apartment.
I’m looking forward to tonight’s event. The line shouldn’t be quite as long, and I’ll actually get to see something after queuing. The rumors I’ve heard coming from Cleveland seem to point to ridiculous mistakes being made by a management team I don’t particularly like, which should be entertaining as well. I plan on attending each day of the draft, and blogging about the experience each night. I’ll also be live-tweeting to all 34 of my followers. If you’d like to hear about the draft as it happens, you should follow me on Twitter on @LasikF. Hopefully both my tweets and my blog posts will be enjoyable, since I can pretty much guarantee the direct ratio between stupid Browns decisions and the hilarity of my writing. Enjoy!