The NFL Circus came and went

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, May 5th, 2018

ARLINGTON — With the beginning of the Texas Rangers baseball season and the aftermath of the Mavericks and Star basketball and hockey campaigns, not to mention the NCAA playoffs, it’s entirely possible DFW Sports fans missed the biggest sports story in the Metroplex last week.
The Circus was in Town! The Circus was in Town!
Not the real elephant-walking, clown-spinning circus, which was outlawed by the PC crowd a couple of years ago, but the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. It was professional football’s greatest circus overseen by the hype machine minds of the NFL and football’s top carnival banker, Hall of Fame owner Jerry Jones.
From the lavish pre-draft dinners at the Cowboys World Headquarters (The Star in Frisco) featuring a double 88 sightings with both Drew Pearson and Michael Irving, to the splashy Red Carpet ceremony and the main, nationally televised event itself before 80,000 or so of your closest friends at the Death Star, aka Boss Hawg bowl, aka Jerry World.
If the saying “Everything is bigger in Texas” is true, and it is, then there was nothing bigger than the NFL Draft Circus last week which attracted more than 250,000 people from 23 different states to Arlington.
“This is the Dallas Cowboys, we do things big around here. Let’s get up,” Irvin virtually shouted to the packed crowd Thursday night during the drama-filled first round.
It was big enough that Texas actor Matthew McConaughey did the narration to a Draft Day in Texas video, which was played before the first pick was announced while Jones’ white Cowboys helicopter did not one, but two passes over the stadium before the draft started.
“Man, the draft was nothing like this when I was selected,” said Cowboys legendary safety Darren Woodson, a second round Cowboys pick out of Arizona State in 1992. “This is incredible.”
The NFL brought more than 20 prospective draftees to Dallas for a weekend of luxury lodging at a downtown Dallas hotel, food, pre-draft parties and that was even before the first-ever Red Carpet ceremony. It was free to fans attending the NFL draft experience and invited NFL guests who dined on a variety of hors e’oevres and drinks by a constantly rotating group of tuxedoed waiters.
A booming announcer’s voice announced each player or NFL legend who walked down the freshly swept carpet. They came first then followed by their parents, family and college head coach each with their name announced.
Fans lining the railing saluted quarterback Roger Staubach, who pointed to the crowds to acknowledge the cheers which rained down on all sides.
A variety of High Profile College coaches from Alabama coach Nick Sabin to USC head man Kim Helton. Georgia coach Kirby Smart and UTSA head man Frank Wilson consented to several interviews. Penn State head man James Franklin signed autographs and greeted his former players.
The players also used the occasion to showcase some fashions they haven’t broken out probably since senior prom.
There were various colors of red and gold with some conservative blues and blacks mixed in, mainly by the parents. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, won the night by sporting a forest green jacket he wore with a bow tie, looking like he had just won the Masters golf tournament or was showcasing the color of money he would soon be making in the NFL.
The three-day televised extraganza did answer the burning question Dallas-Fort Worth sports fans and draftnicks have always wanted to know.
Is the fabled Green Room, where potential draftees wait to hear their short term professional future set when their names are called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, really green?
In the case of the 2018 NFL Draft at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium, the answer was, kind of. The turf where the actual room sat, the size of several large bedrooms, was indeed green. The temporary walls were blue and the skirting all around with plenty of NFL logos was blue as well.
There were plain meeting tables like the type used for banquets or high school events, laid end to end, along with a bank of cold, sponsor-provided, non-alcoholic drinks and a table of fruit and sponsor-endorsed candy.
Something a little harder to drink might have been more welcomed by those whose names didn’t get called as soon as they were hoping or by the teams they had dreamed of playing for.
But as the first round dug on, nobody felt like eating anything until they were drafted and then the celebration was on.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley was the first to exit the room as the number two pick (top pick Baker Mayfield chose to celebrate at home) by the NFL East foe New York Giants. He walked up the flight of steps with the sign pointing the prospect path to the draft stage.
There he was greeted by a seemingly unending bank of TV lights and cell phone cameras. NFL Commissioner Goodell, who entered from the other end of the stage, was greeted by the traditional non-stop wave of boos and carried a freshly imprinted NFL Jersey with the players name and new team colors.
Former University of Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams was still left in the sort of green room at the end of the first night with his parents, but returned for the weekend and was rewarded as he was picked by his hometown team, the Dallas Cowboys in the second round.
During Saturday’s third day, fans could actually run 40-yard dash times on the AT&T Stadium turf, practice their field goals from three different distances and catch long, Hail Mary type passes from the team which invented the sports phrase.
After all, for the first time ever, the NFL Circus was in Town, The Circus was in Town and from the looks of things, everyone had a very good time.


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