Written by: Will Keys

The NFL Draft is objectively bad, weird television. For three days, we watch large men in their early twenties sit around with their families as they find out their plans for after college (Girls on HBO might be the female equivalent). It’s not like an episode of Law and Order where you can sit down without having ever seen an episode and figure things out within ten minutes. The further removed you are from the NFL, the more bizarre a spectacle the draft begins to seem.

That being said, there’s really nothing like it. If you grow up watching the draft, it’s almost impossible to pull yourself away and gets harder not to watch with every passing year. It’s inherently one of the furthest things away from an actual game of football, and yet it means everything to the sport. For those who don’t watch much college football, it’s an introduction to the incoming generations of players that will be rookies, veterans, and retirees over the course of an NFL life cycle.

For three days in April, it’s okay to sit around and watch TV, and the NFL deserves credit for giving that to us. In honor of them, and the weird, beautiful appointment viewing they’ve created, here are the yearly traditions that make the NFL Draft great.

  1. The ESPN chimes — that sweet, erotic, Pavlovian sound that plays ever so softly to let us know that the pick is going to be announced. What a glorious and simple melody.
  2. The commissioner getting booed — booing Roger Goodell when he walks to the podium is a bit like telling Santa “fuck you” as he slides down the chimney. In a vacuum, it doesn’t make a lot of sense… this is the man responsible for overseeing this great weekend. And yet, anyone who follows football understands.
  3. Mel Kiper Jr. — you can’t not respect a man that invented his job and subsequently created an industry. Boy is his hair weird. As is the fact that his bladder is an impermeable steel cage.
  4. Trying to decide between ESPN and NFL Network — the NFL Draft feels like one of the few remaining vestiges of ESPN’s past, a simpler time when Chris Berman made musical references that were outdated even in 1997 and Stuart Scott brought catch phrases into the cultural lexicon. Of course, NFL Network’s coverage is probably the more comprehensive of the two.
  5. Ruining a song by playing it the entire weekend — a staple of NFL Network’s coverage. The song that comes to mind is Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind.” Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York, New York (x100).
  6. Preposterous formal wear — NFL draftees are some of the few people that can pull off the suits they decide to wear, and more power to them. The gradual transition from oversized suits to European cuts over the last decade or so has been mesmerizing.
  7. Awkward post-draft interviews — “[Insert name here], how does it feel to be a Cleveland Brown?” “I’ll be honest, Michelle, I’m really fucking disappointed.”
  8. Player/commissioner hugs — just a couple of old pals catching up… a middle-aged senator’s son and a defensive tackle from Shreveport, Louisiana.
  9. Existential crises — especially the one you’ll get in the middle of the sixth round when you wonder what this all means and what you’re doing with your life.
  10. Your team is on the clock — the handful of minutes in the first round when your team’s future is in the balance and the pick could be anyone ranging from a quarterback to a kicker from Poland.

Honorable mentions: New England trading down, mispronounced names, awkward on-location picks, Mr. Irrelevant, trying to justify to your girlfriend why you’re still watching