NEW YORK — Often lost amid all the news, business and media aspects of the draft is the fun. It’s easy to focus on what team is taking which player, what kind of contracts will eventually be handed out and how much exposure and/or endorsements the top prospects will receive.
But the fact remains, football is a game and it is meant to be enjoyable.
There is no better forum for that message to come through than at the NFL Play 60 event that happens annually before the draft. All of the prospects attending the draft run drills, play flag football games and mingle with area children.
The sheer joy and excitement on the kids’ faces makes it all worthwhile. Whether it be two boys slapping high-five after juking out Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas in a running drill, Sam Bradford giving encouragement to a little girl in a passing drill or Jared Odrick exhorting his young charges to pick off a Bryan Bulaga pass in a game of flag football, this event captures the players in the kind of relaxed setting rarely seen.
There are even lessons to be learned for the soon-to-be pros. Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy found out he needed to keep his head on a swivel, after he turned one way and a kid on the opposite side of the field launched a football that landed squarely on his head. McCoy, though, ever the good sport, just chuckled, took it in stride and kept right on rolling. After all, the next kid was ready to run his route.
– Jason Feller