I’ll Have a Table For 70,000
Written by John Rehor Thursday, 08 April 2010 16:52
The NFL Draft is two weeks away, and this is the date that NFL fanatics look forward to. It marks the end of the quiet period of the offseason. The time in between the Super Bowl and the Draft is BORING. The Packers do their part to keep fans interested at least. They have Fan Fest in March, a gathering of a few thousand of your brethren to Lambeau for 2 days of all Packers. They explore free agency, usually with a whimper, although this year marked a decidedly different approach with the resigning of Ryan Pickett, Nick Collins, Chad Clifton, and Mark Tauscher all within a few days of each other. While this is going on, fans around the world do their best to mock draft what the Packers (and the rest of the NFL) will do on draft day and continue the never ending game of tryng to figure out what Ted Thompson is thinking
I am looking forward to April 22, 2010. The NFL season will be upon us, with the Packers roster starting to take shape. After that, its rookie orientation followed by OTA’s followed by Training Camp. I love the countdown to the season starting. This year has a different feel to the draft. Besides the 3 day extravaganza, it is my opinion the Packers made a colossal mistake towards the fans. The mistake is not having a proper Draft Party.
I have been to the Draft party in years past and think it’s great. It is a toned down version of Fan Fest in the sense that it is only a few hours instead of two days, and the number of players is substantially fewer. However, the atmosphere is all Packers, and for the large number of people who arrive with laptops and cases full of draft info, the Atrium becomes a subsidiary of the actual draft in New York. Fans stuff Lambeau Field for the opportunity to be part of something great. In the case of the draft, it is to be around the decision makers as they select the next group of Packers for the upcoming season. Many times, the draft itself is left open to interpretation (Justin Harrell), but occasionally, the surprises which take place create a buzz around the stadium that unless you are there, it cannot be described in words (trading up for Clay Matthews). The team is owned by the fans, and fans go out of their way to show their never ending devotion to the team. And picking up a few autographs and shaking some hands with team officials while hanging out with fans is not a bad way to spend a Saturday in April.
Which brings up this year’s draft. Instead of having a Draft party, the team has decided to have a “scaled down” party to be held in Curly’s Pub. I have eaten at Curly’s many times and think it’s great for the sit down lunch after walking around. My question is how does the team think this will appease the most devoted fan base in the NFL? The Packers have said that Curly’s will be the Draft Day Headquarters, with seating first come first serve. If the number of fans were to show up at this year’s Draft Party as had in previous years (approximately 2000), the line should start forming sometime tomorrow to get a table. No players have been announced that they will be present. The seating area is a few tables in a restaurant, and who knows what downstairs in the Atrium. The Pro Shop should be busy, as it always is. The draft just doesn’t have the same feel to it though. It seems like the team forgot about the fans.
The excitement at Fan Fest was incredible. It was great to be surrounded by thousands of Packer fans as well as coaches, players, and alumni. The talk has been that this is the year the Packers return to the Super Bowl, and the start of the next season begins with the NFL Draft. I was looking forward to spending at least part of the NFL Draft with some of the Packer loyal. However, I think this year I will be sitting at home, watching the Draft on TV like so many others. I hope the organization fixes this error for future drafts and has a proper Draft Party in the Atrium so thousands can join in the fun instead of a few hundred. It just doesn’t seem right not to be in the Bay for the draft.