From 1965 through 2014, the NFL always held its draft event in New York—though it had been many places prior to that. It was even in Pittsburgh at the Fort Pitt Hotel in 1948. Since 2015, however, the league has determined to make the draft an annual event with a varying location, with other NFL cities getting the opportunity to play host.
It started in Chicago for two years before moving to Philadelphia, and then Dallas a year ago, before Nashville played host last month. Las Vegas will be the next to host the draft, by which point the Las Vegas Raiders are supposed to be a thing. After them? The hometown of the Cleveland Browns in 2021.
“We are incredibly honored to be able to showcase the City of Cleveland and the passion of Browns fans through the unique international platform the NFL Draft provides”, the team’s owners shared in a statement.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for Northeast Ohio that even extends beyond football, and we look forward to continuing the work ahead with Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the City of Cleveland, Destination Cleveland and the NFL to ensure that the 2021 NFL Draft is truly memorable for Northeast Ohio and football fans across the world”.
The announcement comes as the Browns generate as much buzz as they have since they returned to the NFL after Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore and renamed it the Ravens. Even though they are coming off yet another losing season, expectations far and wide are for them to be much better this year. They are even regarded favorites to win the division.
Will they live up to that billing by the time the draft rolls through town in 2021? Not that it’s necessarily going to make a huge difference with respect to the turnout (though it wouldn’t hurt), as, say what you will about their team, but the Browns have a rabid fan base.
“Cleveland has a passionate fan base and the city offers distinctive iconic locations and attractions that will bring the NFL Draft experience to fans in unique and exciting ways”, said Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We look forward to collaborating with the Cleveland Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to celebrate the achievements of the next generation of players and create a memorable fan experience”.
Of course, I’m sure the question on the minds of many reading this now is, when is Pittsburgh going to host the draft? 2023 is already going to be Kansas City, and it sounds as though 2022, yet to be determined, is earmarked for a bigger market.
I wrote all the damn way back in 2013, I believe my first month on the site, about the Steelers’ interest in hosting the draft, so there’s no doubt they have their hat in the ring. And I’m sure it will happen eventually. I just don’t know how many years they might have to wait.