We welcome fellow Falcoholic and incredibly talented Atlanta-based chef Eli Kirshtein to the site to help us all figure out how to enjoy the draft from quarantine.
Joe Burrow jumps on a boat and casually rides across the pond that is Bellagio fountains. After a short embrace from Roger Goodell, it’s Chase Young’s turn. And so on, and so on.
We will have just spent the previous couple hours watching players in crop top tailored suits, with their mothers on their arms, walk down a red carpet. Later followed by the same group sitting in a makeshift waiting room that resembles a high school athletics award banquet more than a room full of young men about to be multimillionaires.
But not this year. We may be lucky to still get to bask in random cuts to empty conference rooms that for this week carry the moniker of War Room, followed by the omnipresent replays of combine clips to show freakish athleticism whilst providing very little context to the value of said athleticism, and continuing with clips of Rich Eisen running in a suit as he whispers analysis of his technique. But, sadly, we will be missing much of the draft pageantry that we have grown accustomed to for the last forty years gone.
Let me say, I love the NFL Draft, much more than the average fan. I have told every boss or employer in my adult life that there are only two days on the calendar every year that I won’t work, the Fourth of July and The NFL Draft. Let me also say that I am acutely aware that there are far more significant things going on in the world than the draft, but for right or wrong, I am appreciative that we have this distraction for a bit. That also doesn’t change the actuality that it sucks we can’t have draft parties right now.
In order to help numb the pain of not being able to host a social event of such magnitude, by edict or not (in general, I emphatically ask you to not have any kind of party right now) we can have a mock draft party, imagine that.
As with most gatherings for sporting events, food is a central piece. We will have fewer people hanging out, but that doesn’t mean we can’t eat well. I don’t think we need to go super-weird like Mel Kiper does every day by consuming a Safeway brand pumpkin pie without the crust, but we can have some fun. Here are some guidelines and suggestions:
Serving food that isn’t too temperature sensitive is probably wise. People have different eating habits during these sorts of things, so making sure it holds up is smart.
- Example: Cheese-based dips can be good. Bonus if you can get owner’s box level of fancy and do things like spinach and artichoke.
- Chilled items are great. I personally would be happy to consume a really embarrassing amount of shrimp cocktail. And I’m saying embarrassing for the people around me, not myself, of course.
Focus on just one singular pièce de résistance as a main. People tend to get a little too ambitious here, for the sake of head count don’t put out the full menu from your ambitions of being a BBQ Pitmaster, Vince Wilfork style. Stick with one protein. Also consider timing, if your team goes on the clock in two picks, that’s not the time to put in something that takes 20 minutes to serve up.
- Throw down on some wings, they are forgiving and if done in the oven can hold for a bit. You will be able to react appropriately when the Falcons inevitably trade up or the Patriots predictably trade down.
The sweet stuff
Don’t forget dessert! Many may often consider it unnecessary, but others will need it to cope with the didactic explanation from a GM who won’t be around in nine months (looking at you Gettleman) of why your team took a kicker in the second round or some such nonsense.
- Cookies! Brownies! This isn’t the time to get into sorbet and fruit cups. Snackable mini versions of baked goods are easy to pull off, and in a pinch you can buy good versions of them.
Theme it up
All around, consider being thematic. Maybe you’re a fan of a team on an opposite coast? Maybe your all-time favorite college player might be getting drafted by your all-time least favorite pro team? Make a connection to it all somewhere.
- For example, Cincy fans now have an opportunity to make some muffalettas instead of that garbage that they call chili; even Joe Burrow hates it.
I knew I wasn’t trippin lol pic.twitter.com/XhaOdDzSHN— George Iloka (@George_iloka) January 14, 2020
Environment is equally important to the overall experience as is the food. There are a couple ways to approach this, from full on casual to full on boiler rooms. Considering how NFL teams are likely treating this, it could have the feel of a really elaborate social Zoom call or less like the traditional view of Jerry Jones sitting in his house totally unchecked, calling a twenty-year-old to ask if he is ready to be a Cowboy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t cozen yourself into thinking it’s business as usual and get a little elaborate with your room.
- You can build a mock draft board if you want to get really in the weeds of it. To get that far, you’ll need multiple TVs with all the major channels on, and a couple computers giving instant grades. You also should probably dress appropriately here and be business casual at a minimum.
- A little less intense could just be as simple making sure that you have your TV and maybe a computer all set up to watch it all. This would also probably be an appropriate time to put your team’s jersey on your small child or pet. For garb for yourself, the middle ground of that looks like the more typical Belichick method. He has been known to wear a suit, yes, but more often he is wearing the trademark sweatshirt, and come the fourth round, we have even seen him wearing khaki shorts.
- The most casual way is to just sit on the sofa and come as you are with the easiest watching broadcast on your TV. Zero judgement on this one. Maybe still dress up your pets.
A last thing to note is that it is still very important to have connections with your fellow draft aficionados, and nowadays we beautifully have the technology to do that. There are innumerable video and chatting formats currently available, and I recommend you use those.
Regardless of who may be watching on the other end, please, for the sake of us all record yourself once your team goes on the clock. There is a low, but still well within the margin of error, chance that you will produce some amazing content for the rest of us. This could be the sheer disappointment of having your team slated to pick in the late twenties, and at the last second, trade their pick to the next day. Or, if we are truly lucky, you’ll go nuts and smash your TV, as I would imagine happened several times after Daniel Jones’ name was read off the card in 2019. Regardless of the result, you never know when you will become an overnight viral sensation.
With all that being said, have fun, eat well, drink responsibly, and the sports gods willing, we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming come next year.