"As a TV event, the NFL’s lockdown draft felt slapdash, a little weird and less eventful than those in recent years," says Oliver Connolly. "It was also the first time in over a month things felt slightly back to normal." He adds: "The draft went off, more or less, without a hitch, unless you happen to share a home with Aaron Rodgers. The technology worked fine. The broadcast networks did a commendable job of patching it all together. The teams sat and waited, no one was willing to mortgage their future to jump into the top 10 or shuffle up towards the top five with so much uncertainty over what the next season might look like. Given the downsized feel and general unease of the whole operation, there was a lack of zest running throughout the broadcast. Teams at the top of the board didn’t help; their decision-makers were altogether too sensible...The virtual draft removed all of the excesses and indulgences that make the event so wacky and wonderful in the first place. ESPN leaned into the human interest side of things – understandable given current circumstances – but it left little room for talk of football or team-building or what’s next and stripped an awful lot of fun out of an event that is, objectively, ridiculous. Remove the hilarity of the thing and you’re just left with Roger Goodell delivering his best humanoid impression as he reads 32 names. It’s a little dry."
NFL executives' weird houses saved the 2020 NFL Draft: "Just as the evening threatened to turn into the same old slog, there came a saving grace: footage from inside the homes of coaches, general managers, and executives," says Nick Greene. "These characters usually spend draft nights stationed in their facility’s 'war rooms,' but, thanks to social distancing, we got to see them in their more natural environments."
Last night was nothing more than a self-congratulatory branding opportunity seized with great vigor: "You were meant to come away from all that soft narration and saluting of first responders with the understanding that the NFL is now the official league of Helping Us Heal During This Pandemic," says Tom Ley. "Just as you were previously meant to understand that the NFL was the official league of Supporting Our Brave Troops, and Supporting Our Brave Women, and Supporting Our Brave Social Justice Advocates. The irony of the NFL making uniquely eager sports fans sit through nearly 20 minutes of self-hagiography before actually giving them what they desperately wanted will likely never penetrate the league office. No sports league in history has never been more convinced of its own importance, or of its unique status not as an entertainment product, but as a civic institution."