I’m an NFL Draft watcher; have been for years now. Hey, I live for the Green Bay Packers, so any pro football programming I can get in the spring to help avert my eyes from the NBA playoffs, I am all over.
But I’m also a music devotee and amateur musician, and sometimes my band travels to play shows. Actually, along with the Packers, playing music is one of the great loves of my life (never mind that I’m not very good at it). So it was that my band was asked to play International Pop Overthrow in Chicago this year … during the NFL Draft.
That’s right, Day One of the NFL Draft. And Day Two. And as for Day Three of the draft? Travel day, back home to Louisville, Ky. Oh god. Who booked these shows? Oh wait … I did. Three months ago. Idiot.
My nightmare begins in the Windy City. Somehow, I must find a way to blame Bears fans for this tale of woe.
Day One, Thursday, April 25
My bandmates and I arrive in town and make it to the venue not long before the draft officially begins. Perfect. I’ll have time to watch at the bar while we wait to play later in the evening. I hang out with my bandmates, listen to the other bands on the bill, track the picks until the Packers are on the clock at 26, and all will be well.
As the selections tick away, I look up occasionally to see updates.
Dee Milliner is gone at No. 9? We all knew he’d be gone well before the Packers choose at 26. No worries.
But as the evening moves forward, the time for my band to take the stage and the time for the Packers to draft, it soon appears, are on a collision course with fate. Nervously, I watch the clock on the wall as it ticks down, and the band playing before us – a local act called the Red Wigglers –bangs through its quirky set.
Tyler Eifert to the Bengals! No big deal. Aw, and Sharrif Floyd falls to 23? How’d that happen? Oh crap. We’re on in 10 minutes.
“We have one more song for you!” the band’s lovely, auburn-haired singer announces.
Hey, at least when we walked off stage that night (after playing a killer set, I might add), I got a nice surprise in learning that we snatched up Datone Jones. Talk about adding some nasty to a defense that has been accused of being soft. Oh, we’ll see who’s soft come September. And at least tomorrow I’ll have a better chance of watching more of the draft unfold.
Day Two, Friday, April 26
Our band is scheduled to play earlier in the evening this time around, but the draft starts earlier, too. I snuggle up to the bar as the Packers are just four picks away from their second-round choice. At this point, I have no idea who is even left because we spent the afternoon rehearsing in the hotel room and running around downtown Chicago.
And then, before my horrified eyes, the channel switches – to that night’s Chicago Blackhawks game coverage. Hockey? Are you kidding me?? No one’s even watching it!
“Sorry,” says the bartender. “It’s a local game. I can turn the draft back on when the game is over, if that’s OK.” Sure, pal. I can wait for TWO AND A HALF hours. No problem.
So I call up my NFL app on my phone. I’ll show him.
Sure enough, the draft picks start loading, and even though I can’t watch the highlight reels, I’m back in business. Until … “No Internet connection. Click to re-try.” aaaaAAAaaAAaaRRRrrRRGGGH!!!!
And we play another kickin’ set. But it’s not until we get back to the hotel room later that I learn we got Eddie-freaking-LACY in the second round at 61. How in the hell did THAT happen? And in the third round? Well, the ESPN ticker keeps sliding by, name after name. What, are you kidding me? We traded out? What did we get??? Oh, we got about 142 later-round picks, apparently. I’ll take that.
By this point, my very patient bandmates have to be getting tired of watching talking heads analyze draft picks on NFL Network. I mean, they don’t even care about football, let alone the Packers. I finally throw them a bone and announce that no one will die if they change the channel.
I vaguely remember falling asleep to an Adam Sandler movie.
Day Three, Saturday, April 27
It’s not a short drive from Chicago to Louisville. In the van, my buddy and bandmate Butch and I talk about music mostly, and he chuckles each time I check my phone. He knows it’s either my girlfriend texting me or me frantically searching for Packers draft info. Usually the latter.
“We got Jonathan Franklin in the fourth friggin’ round!?” I shout.
McDonald’s/bathroom break at Indy with our rhythm guitarist Nick. Like I said, it’s not a short drive.
Finally, two hours later, Butch drops me off in front of my house. I drive to my girlfriend’s apartment to pick up my dog, Darby, and visit with her and her son. I return home, shower and put on some clothes that don’t smell like beer, leftover pizza and man-stink.
Then I plop down onto my couch and turn on ESPN to try and catch the end of the draft coverage. Mr. Irrelevant has apparently been picked about 20 minutes earlier. The 2013 NFL draft? Over. And I did not get to see one Packers’ selection as it happened. Sigh. I really need to re-evaluate my emotional investment in this football team. This four-decades-old obsession is getting the best of me. Maybe.
So, uh … how many days until training camp opens?