The Beatless Beat Writer: A Draft to Remember

Joey Blackwell recounts his thoughts on the 2020 NFL draft and what he looks forward to in the future
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Is it just me, or was this past weekend a blast?

Like many, last week’s NFL draft came as a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale world. Full disclosure, I had never watched the full draft from start to finish before. However, this year things are different.

For a brief moment, life returned to normal. A live event on television regarding sports. I could not contain my excitement on Thursday as the opening round approached.

As the draft got underway, things were noticeably different. We all knew going into the draft that things were going to work differently than normal. Reporters and analysts all broadcasted from their offices in their homes. Draft hopefuls all sat on their couches with their friends and families. No stage. No handshake with the commish.

While different, the familiarity of the draft was still there. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell still announced every pick for the first three rounds, making the calls from the basement of his home.

I’ll admit, when I first saw the live camera on the set with the caption “Roger Goodell’s Basement,” I couldn’t help but chuckle.

But all the differences aside, the draft still operated normally. No hiccups or technological issues. Instead of having cameras on team personnel live at the draft in Las Vegas, the cameras instead brought us into the homes of the coaches, general managers and owners.

If anything, this draft felt more intimate.

Regardless whether or not you routinely watch the NFL draft, the experience will forever be unforgettable. In these dark times surrounded by uncertainty, life felt somewhat normal. The only glaring difference in my personal experience was the lack of friends that I normally have over to watch the draft with me. Fortunately, I do still have one roommate who watched with me, but I do still yearn for a social gathering. The laughter at bone-headed picks. The frustration when those picks are made by your own team. The Rotel dip and Buffalo wings.

Humans were not meant to be isolated creatures. We crave human contact and strive for those relationships with our fellow men and women. We are not meant to be alone.

All-in-all, the draft was an amazing experience that I won’t soon forget, and it gave us all something to look forward to: football.

I’m not explicitly talking about the sport. More so, I’m referring to what comes with football. Those Saturday and Sunday tailgates filled with laughter, cheering, beer and barbecue are missed by many. Watching games both in Bryant-Denny Stadium or at home on the couch with friends is something that I long for. In all honesty, I feel that I miss my friends more than I miss the sport itself.

Seeing former Alabama players in their homes celebrating as they were selected in the draft brought me comfort. It showed me that even in times like these, there are still things worth celebrating. While we might not be allowed to go about our normal routines, life still hasn’t stopped. Both the joys and sorrows of life still tread onward, uninhibited by the harsh realities that currently bombard us.

I personally can’t wait for life to get back to normal, as I’m sure all of you do as well. The return of football and of sports in general will be a happy day, as it will symbolize the progress that we have all made as one nation and how life can finally return to normal.

And then there was Bill Belichick’s dog. Such a good pupper.

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The Beatless Beat Writer is a series of stories by BamaCentral's own Joey Blackwell. The series is meant to reflect on and discuss Alabama athletics and its fans in Tuscaloosa during the current pandemic.