For 50 years straight, the NFL Draft was held in New York City. But in 2015, they took their wild, wacky, compelling show on the road.
The NFL that year set up shop in Chicago. And while Roger Goodell still made the picks indoors, the league threw a big party for fans in nearby Grant Park. It went so well in 2015, they brought it back to the Windy City the following year.
Trey Wingo was there as ESPN’s draft host, and as he describes below, got a crash course in Midwest weather — and the importance of research.
Trey Wingo Remembers the 2016 NFL Draft
Philadelphia in 2017 was the draft’s first real outdoor experience. But the two years before were a soft launch for the concept.
The draft was in Chicago those years, and we broadcasted the first two rounds indoors, and Day 3 was outdoors.
The first year, Day 3 was great. It was like 55 degrees and sunny. In 2016, it was the typical April day in Chicago, which is to say it sucked.
It was 45 and just raining buckets. And at one point, it got so bad that we had to break down a set outside because we were all freezing to death.
We all ran back into the theater, but for a 20-minute stretch, the only coverage of the draft was Adam Schefter in the balcony, just announcing the picks. There was no analysis, there was nothing. And Adam was just juggling flaming cats before the rest of me, Louis Riddick, Mel Kiper Jr., and Bill Polian all got back inside and started going through it.
God, he was under a lot of stress.
And what was really interesting was during that transition, right when we got back in there, the Chiefs drafted Tyreek Hill. That was when Hill was coming out of college and had some issues.
Some background on how ESPN’s draft broadcast: Every year, they do a great job of researching the draft. There’s a certain folder of people with character concerns.
And obviously, Tyreek had massive character concerns. So like, three picks after we got settled back in, the Hill pick was made. And thanks to the research staff and some pretty timely recall, I was able to remember enough to break down his situation, despite the logistical challenges.
First of all, the name is interesting. Tyreek — that helped me remember it. It was just one of those moments where we got lucky that the pick happened when it happened.
More NFL Draft Stories from Trey Wingo
- Inspiration, Intoxication, and Precipitation
- Fly, Eagles Fly
- An Electrocution Scare in Nashville
- The COVID-19 Draft
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