An NFL draft unlike any other kicks off Thursday night, and for once, the star of the show isn’t a Heisman winner or a franchise-saving linebacker. No, this time the star of the show is the show itself: the slapdash, duct-taped, jury-rigged, please-Lord-let-this-work virtual connection tying together the NFL’s 32 teams and you.
Imagine you just got told you’ll be singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 10 minutes, and you’ve got an idea of the anxiety levels of the NFL at this moment. You’ve got NFL general managers literally tearing apart their own homes, they’re so nervous about all this working correctly. And if you think, “Couldn’t they just, you know, call in their picks?” then you, my friend, may not have sufficient paranoia and suspicion of technology to be an NFL GM. Sorry.
Not to sound heartless, but … I’m rooting for a little chaos here.
This isn’t a matter of national security or life-and-death choices; it’s a tricked-up job fair. It’s also the closest thing we’ve had to a major sport in the past month, and we’re all starving for drama. With that in mind, here are 10 things I’m hoping happen at this year’s virtual NFL draft:
Roger Goodell gets booed in his own home: Goodell is doing the draft from his basement, and it’d be great if he read off the picks in a bathrobe and basketball shorts while surrounded by old Christmas decorations and a dusty treadmill. Barring that, we at least need the boos. Booing the commish is as much a tradition as players wearing garish suits and Jets fans griping about everything. Yes, Bud Light and the NFL have (of course) turned this into a #branding opportunity, but I want to see Goodell’s family, right down to the dog, booing him. Keep the streak alive!
Some GM forgets he’s on camera and scratches himself: We’ve all been on Zoom calls when someone who hasn’t participated in awhile lets their attention wander. The draft can get long, particularly when we get deep into the late rounds. You know somebody’s going to lose focus and start belching, scratching or readjusting before the entire country.
Some team gets disconnected right at a key moment: “With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals sel-” “Hello? Cincinnati? Hello … ? Well, time’s up, let’s move on to the Redskins.” And just like that fool in your fantasy league who shows up late for the draft every year, they’ll demand a re-pick. Along these same technological lines, we’ll also accept some GM doing that “HELLO I AM HERE HELLO” move, busting into an already-in-progress room without muting their phone. Seriously, folks, this isn’t hard: mute your phone.
Hackers feed Goodell the wrong pick: Look, cybercrime is a serious offense, but in the right hands, it could also be a hysterical one. Tell me you don’t want to see Goodell lean into his laptop camera and announce that with the latest pick, “the New York Giants select Harry Butts, tight end, East Poochie State University.” And then Dave Gettleman would try to convince the New York media that Butts was the guy they wanted all along, they’re very high on Butts, Butts can make an immediate contribution.
Somebody’s dog, uh, grooms itself in the background of a shot: Oh, something’s going to happen in somebody’s background. A dog’s going to be taking care of business. A family member’s going to walk through in a towel. A kid’s going to come storming in and throw a tantrum. It’s going down.
Some GM’s kid slaps the keyboard and upends the entire draft: Every single GM is as nervous as Rob Gronkowski’s agent on a Saturday night, terrified to make a single move lest they completely topple this fragile little house of cards. Seriously, look at this. Everyone’s jittery as hell:
Sources: The #Dolphins have called the teams in front of them for a possible trade up from No. 5 and are gauging the price to come up to No. 3 to potentially take an offensive tackle. We could see a run on tackles in the Top 10 like never before.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 22, 2020
So you know that something’s going to go fabulously wrong. Some cute kid sitting on his dad’s lap is going to accidentally pick a first baseman or something and then five teams after them will pick first basemen just so they won’t be left out.
Some draftee can’t find the right hat: Draftees are under strict orders not to wear that WEED LYFE hat or run around shirtless. But what about their official gear? Every potential first-round draft pick will get all 32 team hats and jerseys shipped to them, and then they’re supposed to pick out the appropriate one once the Big Call arrives. But you know it’s not going to be that easy. Somebody’s little brother is going to be in the background wearing the gear of a division rival. Somebody’s dog is going to chew up the correct hat. Nothing will be smooth this weekend.
Someone throws on a way-inappropriate background to conceal their crappy living conditions: Look, we all want to dream we’re in a better place than stuck in our homes right now, right? And through the magic of Zoom and other teleconferencing programs, we can pretend we’re in Gotham City or the Simpsons’ living room or the slopes of Machu Picchu or wherever. Somebody’s going to go too far, though, and use a background that includes images of [censored] and also [censored] and a big ol’ [censored] right there for America to see.
Some GM’s slipshot handiwork falls down around him: What this quarantine has revealed is that a fair number of us would be pretty useless if civilization really did fall apart (which could still happen! Sit tight!). Check out 49er GM John Lynch’s setup here:
There is no way that’s making it through all seven rounds unscathed! Something’s falling down, something’s getting unplugged, something’s getting smashed in a rage. There will be electronics equipment damage, and it will be magnificent.
Something incriminating lurks in the background of some draftee’s celebration: This is the big-money bet here. You know that when the camera cuts to some lucky new draftee, there’ll be something unfortunate in the background … a weapon, a bit of paraphernalia, a dumbass cousin engaging in some sort of illicit activity. And with an entire nation ready to Zapruder every remote shot of every draftee’s living room, something’s going to get revealed. Bet on it.
The draft begins Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET. Expect the first hijinks about 30 seconds later.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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