It’s been roughly a month and a half since the last pro basketball or hockey game. March Madness was canceled. Baseball never started. For my group of childhood friends and me, and surely for plenty of others, this year’s N.F.L. draft has become the most important sporting event since the Super Bowl.
We make a big deal out of sports holidays. Since college, we have made an event of the first round of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament: We take off the first Thursday and Friday of the first round, travel to a new city and do nothing but watch basketball, drink beer and eat fried food for roughly 96 hours.
We used to also go all out for the N.F.L. draft back when the first couple rounds were on a Saturday, a daylong affair beginning with the first overall pick at noon. Unfortunately, since the N.F.L. made the first round a Thursday night prime time event in 2010, they also unknowingly took the fun out of our annual weekend spectacle.
This year, with the coronavirus pandemic, we’re all spread out and confined to our own living rooms. But the N.F.L. draft is the first taste of real, contemporary sports we’ve had in a month and a half, outside of the brief, joyful schadenfreude we felt after Tom Brady left the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this month.
On Thursday night, roughly a dozen of us will pop onto a Google Hangout to watch the draft together.
Here’s a list of everything we’ve done to commemorate the occasion:
Completed a full mock draft of the first round, complete with trades and imagined dialogue from coaches and general managers, such as Joe Douglas of the Jets claiming, “You can teach technique, but you can’t teach size;” John Schneider of the Seattle Seahawks reaching for players to “show everyone how cagey he is,” and Coach Bruce Arians of the Buccaneers imploring us to “dance like no one’s watching.”
Created a drinking game based on popular draft clichés, which we (of course) held a separate draft for. With the first pick, I selected “National Football League,” as broadcasters often opt for saying the full name instead of the acronym. Other picks include “high motor,” “pad level,” and “football I.Q.”
Assembled a list of prop bets based on draft minutia, such as the number of quarterbacks selected in the first round and the color of Mel Kiper Jr.’s tie. The reward for winning bets comes in the form of “Doltbucks,” the fictional and meaningless currency we use for any and all group bets, dares and activities.
Compared the food orders for each of our respective households, which includes Ledo’s (a Maryland-based rectangular pizza staple), Bonchon wings, Popeye’s, brownies, calzones and “maybe” some cheese fries.
We also just received the sad news that draft analyst Todd McShay won’t be on ESPN’s broadcast because he’s recovering from Covid-19. Our original plan was to toast any time Kiper and McShay disagreed on anything, and we’ll be spending the next several hours before the draft coming up with a rule to replace it.
How are you watching this year’s N.F.L. draft? Do you have a whole new set up, a group digital hangout, or particularly impressive snacks? Show us by tweeting @nytsports. We may include your tweet in this article.