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Arkush: Draft time is one of the best times of year

Most of you have probably noticed that the NFL Draft is two weeks later this year.

For the past four decades or so, the draft has been held on the final weekend of April. But it was moved to the second weekend of May this year allegedly because of a conflict with the Radio City Music Hall venue in New York City.

Considering that Roger Goodell had mentioned several times before the “conflict” arising that the league could push the draft back, supposedly to allow teams more time to prepare, most think the “conflict” excuse is a crock.

The commissioner and his minions made this move for marketing and TV purposes, certainly their right, but it is a bit puzzling why they won’t just admit it.

Perhaps it’s because it has not been a popular move so far, not only with a number of fans, but with a number of teams.

Bears general manager Phil Emery said last week that he loves it, basically an extension of his favorite time of the year.

Makes sense and he seemed truly enthused when he said it.

But I spoke to the president of another NFL team Tuesday who told me his general manager hates it and that they’re actually really upset about the two weeks of evaluation time after the draft that are clearly lost in a simple case of cause and effect.

That club would rather have the time to figure out what they got instead of extra time figuring out whom to get.

The clubs I’ve spoken to around the league are split about 50/50 as to whether they like the change or not.

I’m not sure whether most fans really care.

Preparing for an NFL Draft is classic talk radio fare and the faithful never tire of asking, guessing and predicting.

Conversely, analyzing the draft has just a three- or four-day half life before fans are content to turn their focus back to the Stanley Cup, NBA playoffs, baseball and looming mini-camps.

In that regard, perhaps Goodell is right. He has stolen attention from the other major sports during some of their prime time, to the benefit of his marketing and broadcast partners in his offseason. The guy’s no dummy, you know?

So the only ones it clearly benefits are the 32 owners and their bank accounts.

Regardless of what the fans, scouts and coaches think, don’t expect the draft to move back to April any time soon.

We’re also told the draft may be on the move geographically as well as chronologically.

Goodell has acknowledged that several cities, most notably Chicago and Los Angeles, have expressed an interest in hosting the NFL Draft and that a change could be considered as soon as next year.

This also is a bit of a puzzle to me. Why do Chicago and Los Angeles want it?

This will mark the 38th draft I’ve covered and, for the first eight to 10 years, I would go to New York.

But there is no action there. Not a single NFL decision-maker is there, so there’s really no benefit to being there. It is far more exciting and enlightening to be in the building with one of the teams drafting, where you also get everything from New York on TV.

There are maybe two or three representatives from each team, so less than 100 folks total coming to town to impact the tourist industry with maybe 100 or even a couple hundred journalists.

Perhaps all the times someone would mention on TV that they’re in Chicago or Los Angeles would have some advertising value, but, really, could that be worth it?

The truth is the NFL Draft remains one of my very favorite weekends of the year – in April or May. But the logistics and politics of the whole thing are really irrelevant.

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