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NFL Draft in Philadelphia

Posted on Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The NFL Draft is coming back to Philadelphia


The History

Philadelphia is no stranger to hosting the NFL Draft.  The city has hosted the NFL Draft 15 times in the past, more than any city other than New York City.  It has however been quite a long a time since Philadelphia has hosted the draft and quite a bit has changed since then.
Philadelphia hosted the very first NFL Draft all the way back 1936.  The first NFL Draft took place at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia.  Back then there were only nine teams in the NFL and some, like the Chicago Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates, you probably wouldn’t recognize today.  No NFL teams had scouts back in this time so a list of potential draftees was cobbled together from various print media sources that covered college football.  
A Giant Banner of Philadelphia's City Hall Announces the Return of the NFL Draft
Being selected in the NFL draft wasn’t exactly the exciting moment that it is today.  There was no TV coverage, no cheering fans and in many cases, even the players selected weren’t all that excited.  The first pick was a running back named Jay Berwanger by the Philadelphia Eagles.  But after the Eagles refused to match Berwanger’s salary demands of $1,000 per game, he was traded to the Chicago Bears who likewise couldn’t meet his salary demands and he was subsequently released.  Berwanger, the first draft pick in NFL history, would go on to never play a down in the NFL.  Berwanger’s situation was hardly rare too.  The third pick in the NFL draft, Bill Shakespeare, decided to pursue a career in business rather than take a low paying job in the NFL.  All in all, only 24 of the 81 players selected would end up ever playing a snap in the NFL.
Philadelphia would continue to host the NFL Draft 14 times in the first 25 years in which the NFL Draft was held. As the years went on, so did the popularity of the NFL and subsequently the press coverage of the NFL Draft.  Then in 1965 the NFL Draft moved to New York City… and stayed there for 50 years.  But now, finally, after 56 years of waiting, the NFL Draft is finally coming back to Philadelphia and it promises to be bigger than ever before.

What to See

A far cry from the dimly lit conference room where the first NFL draft was held, in 2017 the NFL Draft will be held at Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, one of the most iconic sights in America.  In fact, the stage for the NFL Draft is being set up right on the steps of the Museum, the same steps that Rocky Balboa triumphantly ran to the top of in the many training montages included within the world famous Rocky films.
A view of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the steps Rocky Made Famous
Whereas the first NFL draft in Philadelphia had no spectators, the 2017 NFL Draft is expecting hundreds of thousands of people to show up!  Only a few thousand lucky people were able to secure tickets for each day of the draft and will be able to sit in the Draft Theater to watch the action live.  These tickets have already sold out.  If you don’t have tickets though, don’t worry there is still plenty for you to see.  The entire Benjamin Franklin Parkway will be transformed into the NFL Draft Experience a, standing room area with huge LED screens to display the draft.  
Those who come to the NFL Draft Experience will be able to do far more than watch the Draft though.  All kinds of festivities will take place.  Fans will be able to ride a 100 yard zipline down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  Or they can test their skills in the Combine Corner and NFL Virtual Reality.  There will also be a veritable museum collection’s worth of Memorabilia on display for fans to view.  You might even get a chance to meet one of the NFL greats who will be in attendance.  There will also be plenty of food and drink for everyone to enjoy.


Insider Info

Also coming to Philadelphia for the event will be the famous Lombardi Trophy, the award given to the winner of each Super Bowl. The Lombardi Trophy is actually a pretty rare sight in the city of Philadelphia.  While the Philadelphia Eagles have won three championships in their history, their most recent championship was all the way back in 1960.  The Super Bowl was not introduced until after the 1966 Season, so all of the Eagles Championships all predated the Super Bowl and the Eagles have never won the award.  However with eight picks in the upcoming draft perhaps you’ll be able to see the Eagles pick the future stars that finally bring them an elusive Super Bowl and the Lombardi Trophy!
A view of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with stage fro the NFL Draft being constructed

How to Get There

For guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour who wish to walk to the NFL Draft Experience, it is located just under 2 miles away from the National Constitution Center where our tours both begin and end.  The most direct route is to make a right onto Arch Street as you leave the National Constitution Center and walk until reach the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and make a right.  You won’t be able to miss the NFL Draft taking place at the end of the Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 
The NFL Draft can also be reached via public transit.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art is served by the 48 Bus which travels along Arch Street and has a stop in front of the National Constitution Center.  Visitors can also arrive at 30th Street station and walk to the Rocky Steps in roughly 20 minutes.  30th Street station is accessible by subway, regional rail, and Amtrak trains.
While there is parking in the vicinity to serve visitors to the many museums of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, due to the very large crowds expected for this event, driving should be avoided if possible as parking will be scarce.


April 27 – 12PM – 11PM (Televised Draft Begins at 8PM)
April 28 – 12PM – 11PM (Televised Draft Begins at 7PM)
April 29 – 10AM – 6PM (Televised Draft Begins at 12PM)

Additional Information

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