COWBOYS WINNING

Dallas Cowboys win hosting duties for 2018 NFL Draft

AT&T Stadium is the place to be for the 2018 NFL Draft. Courtesy photo

Originally appeared on Culture Map/Dallas.

For the first time in history, the NFL draft will take place at an NFL stadium — and of course it's going to be the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Of course.

The 83rd NFL Draft will take place on April 26-28, 2018. The draft site will incorporate the stadium's field, stands, and outdoor plazas, creating an all-encompassing atmosphere and enabling more fans than ever before to watch team selections. It'll be draft everywhere you look.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement at the league's annual fall meeting, following a review of the proposal by the Super Bowl & Major Events Advisory Committee and full ownership.

The decision is the result of a months-long examination of plans submitted by various cities to host the 2018 NFL Draft.

Goodell credits Philadelphia with having set up the shot for Dallas.

"Philadelphia raised the bar by taking the draft to another level, and this new opportunity in Dallas will enable us to continue the event's evolution and grow it even further," he says in a release. "We are grateful to the Dallas Cowboys, the cities of Arlington, Dallas, and Frisco, and the Dallas Sports Commission for their leadership in turning this vision into reality."

The NFL Draft has grown into one of the biggest sporting events of the year. A record-breaking 250,000 fans attended the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, along with more than 1,800 accredited media who covered it.

Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft was broadcast live on ESPN and NFL Network. It was the most-watched cable program of the week and the most-watched sports event of the week on both broadcast and cable networks. During its three days, draft programming claimed five out of the top 10 spots among sports events, including the No. 1 spot.

There will be sponsorship. Called the NFL Draft Experience Presented by Dannon Oikos Triple Zero — which really just rolls off the tongue, does it not? — the festival will allow fans of all teams to participate in football drills, enjoy interactive exhibits and autograph sessions, and take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It will take over the plazas directly outside the stadium, transforming the area for attendees.

The schedule is as follows:

  • April 26: The NFL Draft returns to primetime with Round 1.
  • April 27: Rounds 2 and 3 will feature members of the NFL Legends Community, as well as special guests to be announced.
  • April 28: Rounds 4-7 will conclude the event.

Round 1 will include incoming prospects walking the red carpet before entering the NFL Draft theater, which will be constructed directly on the field. A portion of the stadium will be opened up for the public to attend. Interested fans can win seated tickets at no cost.

Before the draft had grown into the entertainment juggernaut it is today, it was held almost exclusively at hotels, beginning in 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, before hopscotching through cities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C. New York hotels held a lock on it from the '60s until 1995, when it officially moved to an entertainment venue — namely, Madison Square Garden. From 2006-2014, it was at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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