by Cole Pepper
The NFL announced today that the 2014 NFL Draft would be held May 8-10.
The Players Championship is already scheduled for May 8-11.
Uh, oh, Jacksonville.
Or is it?
Examining this from three different standpoints, we get three different perspectives.
As far as sports fans are concerned, the first round of the draft is really the one that matters. Only the hard core fans tune in to the second and third days of the draft. With the first round televised on Thursday evening, local fans can still attend the first day of the Players and then catch the draft. In fact, the Jaguars have a good relationship with the Players and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of cross promotion or NFL Draft viewing party at the players.
The parties in the Lot were fairly successful this year. If they really wanted to make a splash, the Players could line up a viewing party around the 17th hole using the big screen scoreboards. Now that would be memorable.
As far as the media is concerned (and you probably don’t care too much about this, do you?), the week will be a logistical challenge.
Typically, the Jaguars hold their pre-draft luncheon on the Monday before the draft. This is the last opportunity for the local media to collect the thoughts of the Jaguars’ decision makers. That means that it is the last chance for fans to hear those thoughts before the draft.
Why should that be a problem?
I’m going to go a little “inside baseball” here. Monday is also the day that the passes are typically picked up for TPC. There are usually a few golfers at the course and its early enough in the week that it usually offers a good chance to talk to some of the golfers on the range. This means that local media will have to allocate their resources properly.
But Monday isn’t the biggest issue. It’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The days of the actual draft. Let’s say that the Jaguars win six games and pick 10th. Maybe in the best case scenario (at least from a local story angle) they pick Florida corner Loucheiz Purifoy. As mentioned, Thursday night, if there is a draft party at TPC Sawgrass, its easy enough to cover there. But then you need to have a camera, reporter…something…at EverBank Field to capture the comments from Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell, plus the first round pick’s conference call.
Then, usually, the next day around noon, the first round pick comes to the stadium for a press conference.
How much cooperation will there be between the Players Championship and the Jaguars? It’s interesting to ponder a situation in which the Jaguars, who are usually the biggest story in town when there is something “big” going on, may need to recognize that the Players may actually trump the Jaguars for that week.
I would love to see the Jaguars reach out to the Players to hold a Friday press conference at the media center with the first round pick. For starters, its easier for the media to get there because just about all of the local sports media will be at the Players that week.
Second, you may bring in some out of market, or even foreign media (think BBC Radio, etc.) who would want to cover the press conference. That’s exactly what Shad Khan is talking about when he says he wants to expand the brand of the Jaguars.
Third, its a great way for the Players to tie into Jacksonville and vice-versa on a national scale. It’s been a problem in past year (although getting much better of late).
Okay, so that’s my inside baseball talk.
The third perspective is that of the NFL.
Aside from terrorist attacks and presidential assassinations, the NFL stops for nothing. I applaud NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for not just assuming that because things have been done a certain way in the past, its the right way to do them now. However, that doesn’t mean that all change is good.
I’ll be interested to see how the ratings are affected (if at all) and if the coverage is affected by the change of date.