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The Official 2019 NFL Thread

Jimmy James

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Think it's a great idea to pass the draft around.

Nashville perfect host for evolving NFL draft party

Back in the 1990s, what did people first say to Butch Spyridon when he would tell them he was from Nashville, Tennessee?

“You mean after they stopped laughing?” joked Spyridon, who has served as president of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation since 1991. “Back then, conversations were usually about two-stepping, line dancing, ‘Hee Haw’ and the Grand Ole Opry.”

Nashville still has all of those. It also has a lot more — booming growth, a strong, diversifying economy and a reputation as a tourist and convention destination.

"Now they say, 'I was just there, I'm going there or I want to move there.'"

In 1990, the metro population was 985,000. Today, it’s an estimated 1.9 million ... and counting.

The once-sleepy Southern state capital also has two major professional sports teams (the NFL Titans and NHL Predators), something Spyridon called “critical” to the area’s surge.

This week is something of a milestone for the city as it plays host to the NFL draft. It is also a milestone for the NFL, continuing the league’s push to bring one of its signature events to less-traditional spots around the country.

From 1965-2014 the draft was held in New York. Through the years television turned it into a true standalone event, so when a scheduling conflict arose with Radio City Music Hall, the league decided to take it out of Manhattan.

Spyridon immediately thought Nashville would be perfect. Heck, he broached the idea as far back as 2011. At the time, however, the NFL wasn’t ready to go too far astray, focusing on either Los Angeles or Chicago, which would host in 2015-16. Spyridon didn’t quit, though.

“We may not be smart but we are persistent,” he said.

Now Nashville gets a chance at what seemed like a ridiculous idea, but now makes a lot more sense than returning to New York, at least under the old Radio City venue format.

Philadelphia turned the draft into a true civic event in 2017 by staging all three days outdoors in front of the Museum of Art. Some 250,000 people turned out, and it was clear the old days of a small theater were over.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, hosted last year’s draft and that was fine, but returning to the public square — downtown Nashville, free and accessible to all — is the right move. The city’s still relatively small size and middle-of-the-country location are positives, not negatives.

The NFL doesn’t need a media capital to promote itself anymore. The media will come to wherever this thing is held. And giving fans here, not to mention those who can make an easy drive from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and even southern Indiana, a taste of the league is perfect.

“I think it’s brilliant on their part because it is such a fan-faces event where the Super Bowl has become more corporate,” Spyridon said. “It’s perfect for markets like ours and I think it’s really smart to keep it free. It is such an outreach for their product and their brand.”

Las Vegas will host the 2020 draft, a way to jump-start the arrival of the Raiders to the city. That’s fine, but after that, the NFL should avoid glamorous locales and focus on putting this in the markets that have served it, places where something like a draft would be a huge deal.

Cleveland. Buffalo. Detroit. Denver. Pittsburgh. Kansas City. Green Bay. Baltimore. And so on.

For Nashville, this isn’t just an event, it’s a massive undertaking that has brought everyone together. The draft will take place right in the middle of the downtown entertainment district and will include not just the traditional NFL Experience, but some 20 different bands providing free concerts featuring all genres of music. That includes major shows headlined by country stars Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley. It’s a three-day, NFL themed-party.

There is even a house band that will perform during the draft that Spyridon said is working with each NFL team to learn a song that is linked with either the team or the home city.

“It’s a little more personal,” Spyridon said.

This is a long way from indoors, Saturday at noon in Midtown Manhattan.

“Philly was what absolutely turned my head about why this would work here,” Spyridon said. “I think the entire community will come from all corners. Kid and family friendly during the day, more mixed at night.”

This is what the draft should be. It’s part fun, part ridiculous, part important. Mostly, it’s a chance for the NFL to give something back to the fans and the cities that have supported it for years. Nashville isn’t an old NFL market, but it’s passionate. Tens of thousands of fans turned out for the reveal of the Titans’ new jersey last year and has long been a college and high school football stronghold.

The Super Bowl can’t go everywhere. The draft can. So keep sending this thing out into the country and let each region put its own spin on it.

“Nashville loves a good event,” Spyridon said. “Nashville loves a good party. This is perfect for us.”

And for a city near you, too.

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After a string of injuries, it appears that Andrew Luck is calling it a career.

Luck informed the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday that he plans to retire from the league, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Luck had yet to make an appearance this preseason due to a lower leg injury. According to Schefter, Luck is simply “mentally worn down.”

The 29-year-old, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, recorded more than 23,600 yards and 171 touchdowns over six seasons with the Colts.

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9 hours ago, BillyB said:

29 years old...multimillionaire....'mentally worn down' from playing football?...quits on his team and his fans this close to the season opener.

Fuckin wimp.

Billy, wouldn't he have been more of a wimp, being on the injured list all season and take the money, then what he did?

BTW: been on a Colts message board last night and earlier this morning, word has been said, Luck had told the club about his decision back in May. But the club told him to keep it under wraps so they could sale as many season tickets as possible.

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13 hours ago, Jimmy James said:

Billy, wouldn't he have been more of a wimp, being on the injured list all season and take the money, then what he did?

BTW: been on a Colts message board last night and earlier this morning, word has been said, Luck had told the club about his decision back in May. But the club told him to keep it under wraps so they could sale as many season tickets as possible.

I may have been a little harsh in my wording.  But I still think it sucks that this guy would quit when he did.  I looked around a bit, but see nothing about the Colts being aware of this decision or the possibility of this happening any earlier than last Monday. 

The Colts apparently won't be going after any of the $25 million dollar signing bonus he signed.  

I get that he's battled a bunch of injuries during his career...it appears he just doesn't have what it takes to work his way back again.  I guess I just don't get that. He was paid millions of dollars and basically quit because he couldn't bare to go through anymore rehab....so essentially he didn't have it in him to get his ass back on the field. 

I'm not sure that makes him a fuckin wimp....maybe just a regular wimp.  I also don't blame the fans that booed him as he left the field last night.  He let them down.  

As far as taking the money while on an injured list...no that wouldn't make him a wimp at all. Injuries are part of the game and everyone knows that when a contract is signed....I assume the team expectation is for a player to work hard during his recovery and return healthy.  I would think that outright quitting is usually not an option for most players. But Luck already made enough money to retire at 29....so he had that option.  

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