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Raiders fans cheer as team makes first pick of NFL draft

Updated April 29, 2022 - 10:09 pm

Follow along with us during Day 2 of the NFL draft in Las Vegas.

Looking for the latest news and full coverage? Visit lvrj.com/nfldraft.

More on the draft:

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NFL draft Day 1: Strip comes alive with football fanatics

Future NFL stars light up the Strip with custom suits, jewelry

9:18 p.m.

Day Two winds down

Ice Cube ended his post-draft performance by telling the crowd to “go win some money!”

Bathed in red light from overhead, droves of people walked away from the packed draft stage.

Some fans exiting the NFL Draft Experience could be heard trying to start a “Raaaaiders” chant.

Las Vegas-based Baltimore Ravens fans Sakoree Fondren and his wife, Tuyuana, were at a draft party for the Las Vegas Ravens fan club on Thursday and came to the draft Friday.

Sakoree Fondren runs the fan club in Las Vegas. Ravens legend Jonathan Ogden attended the club’s draft party Thursday.

“It was really nice, just coming out here for the whole experience and being able to see the reactions of the players that get chosen and seeing how their dreams are becoming a reality is a really amazing thing,” said Sandra Smith, the Fondrens’ friend from San Diego.

Sakoree Fondren described the draft coming to Las Vegas after a two year wait as a “wonderful thing.”

“Now that it’s actually here, and it turned out to be something that actually was a benefit for the city not just us as Ravens fans,” he said.

— David Wilson

7:47 p.m.

Raiders fans get first chance to cheer

Groans turned to cheers among Raider fans who had waited until the second day of the NFL draft to see their team make a pick. The team initially traded back from the 86th spot much to the disappointment of many in the crowd.

“People are tired, people want to see the Raiders pick,” said fan Ronnie Velarde, who traveled from Southern California with his dad, Ronnie Velarde, Sr.

“I would love to pick up some offensive lineman, I don’t care where they’re from,” the younger Velarde said.

He got his wish four spots later when the Raiders took guard Dylan Parham from Memphis, which was announced by Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton and Raiders Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen.

Soon after, the infamous “Raiders” chant broke out among fans in attendance.

Martha Soto, who was in the group cheering on the team, said the experience was second to none.

“Being here has be a lifetime dream for me,” Soto said. “Just to be able to be here present … being with family, with my husband, no words, no words.”

Although she cherished the time with her loved ones and being part of Raiders history, there was one thing that stood out.

“I took a picture with Maxx Crosby,” Soto said.

Oakland native Darsalon Howard, who recently moved to Las Vegas, said he was pleased with the team’s selection.

Howard was wearing a white Darren Waller jersey and Raiders themed “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” chain.

“It’s expected. Raider nation, that’s what we do. You’re supposed to see us,” Howard said of Raiders fans from all over descending on Las Vegas.

— David Wilson and Mick Akers

5:51 p.m.

Three-team family

Jaquante and Danae McGowan watched two of their sons make their way through the football obstacle course at the NFL Draft Experience.

The family is from Las Vegas but is split between allegiance to the San Francisco 49ers, the Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The McGowans were at the draft with their four kids and one more on the way.

“Once in a lifetime opportunity for the kids to see,” Jaquante McGowan said of the reason for bringing the family to the draft, where they enjoyed nachos, chicken fingers, chicken wings and fries.

“We came for the events for the kids so they could participate,” Danae McGowan said.

Jaquante McGowan boasted that his oldest, Treasure Harris, 15, would have his name called at the draft in a few years. Harris is a high school slot receiver whose favorite player is recent Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams.

“Easily Cooper Kupp,” Harris said, despite his dad suggesting Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow.

— David Wilson

5:20 p.m.

Soaking up the sun

It may be near freezing in Cleveland, but Jeremy Pritchard and his friends were much warmer on Friday. In Las Vegas for the NFL draft, Pritchard and his four friends were happily warm at Circa’s Stadium Swim.

“It’s 30 degrees in Cleveland and 80 degrees here, so it’s much better,” Pritchard said while the group enjoyed a bucket of beers and the NFL draft preview playing on the towering screens above the pool.

Pools like Stadium Swim kept busy during the draft as tourists enjoyed the chance to soak up the sun. Circa owner Derek Stevens said the resort’s poolside-entertainment venue has been particularly popular the last few days.

“When you come out in April and see this Las Vegas sunshine and everything like that – it’s a heck of a weekend for Stadium Swim,” Stevens said.

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of guests mingled in the pool with icy drinks and cold beers. Many wore NFL hats and swim trunks while getting a tan or waiting in the shade for the second day of the draft. Even visitors in town for other purposes said they were glad to revel in the crowd.

“The atmosphere is great,” Matthew Brommer said. “It’s a chill place. I’m the kind of guy that I’m not really a big fan of casinos and strip clubs and stuff like that. There’s still all other kinds of fun things to do here in Vegas.”

— McKenna Ross

4:40 p.m.

Maxx fan base

Raiders fan favorite Maxx Crosby took to the Panini autograph stage at the NFL Draft Experience to sign cards for fans who waited in a line that stretched over 200 people.

Justin Aguilar, originally from the Bay Area and now hailing from Salt Lake City, said Crosby is one up there on his list of top Raiders.

“He’s one of my favorites from the current team for sure,” Aguilar said. “My favorite of all time is Charles Woodson. But on our current defense, Maxx is the leader, and it’s good he’s going to be here for a few more years.”

Aguilar appreciates Crosby is a man of the people and willing to show up for such signing events.

“It’s cool that they realize that this is for the fans,” Crosby said. “Give that time back, that energy, that effort. Giving back the community. It’s a good thing.”

While the Raiders leaving the Bay Area for Las Vegas rubs some fans the wrong way, Aguilar said in the end it’s all about the nation.

“Hey, we’re Raiders fans,” Aguilar said. “No matter where they are, Oakland, L.A. or Las Vegas, we’re Raiders fans.”

— Mick Akers

4:27 p.m.

Dolphins run in the family

Michelle Rey applied sunscreen to the face of her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey, sun beat down on Friday.

The whole Rey family of Miami Dolphins fans including Adam Rey and their son Avery, 5, made the trip from Los Angeles for the draft.

Michelle Rey said the family planned to attend the draft in Las Vegas in 2020 but had to cancel because of the pandemic.

“I’m a Dolphin fan,” said Avery, as his dad talked about being a Dolphins fan his whole life.

Avery wore a green Dolphins shirt. His sister was dressed in a Dolphins cheerleader skirt.

Adam Rey wasn’t too disappointed that his team didn’t have a pick until 102 overall because the missing picks led to them acquiring wide receiver Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs.

“I think it’s a good trade, and we’re pumped,” Adam Rey said.

The kids took part in the interactive football games at the NFL Draft Experience, including a race between father and son in the 40-yard dash.

“Yep, and I beat my sister,” Avery said proudly.

“We’re all sports fans. We all love football in general,” Michelle Rey said.

— David Wilson

3:45 pm

Raiders’ draft T-shirt a hot commodity

North Las Vegas resident Ondrea Perico was with her friend at The Raider Image store inside Fashion Show Las Vegas. They were looking at T-shirts with the Raiders pirate logo. Perico said they planned to visit the Strip on Saturday to take in all the NFL draft festivities.

“We were going to get some stuff to wear tomorrow,” Perico said. “It’s exciting. I think it’s really cool that they have performances and just being able to check out everything down there.”

The store was stocked with Raiders jerseys, T-shirts and caps, but one item was missing — its $35 black NFL draft T-shirt.

Store Manager Jackie Kaufman said she sold the last shirt Friday morning, saying it was a hot commodity.

— Subrina Hudson

3:36 p.m.

Green Bay’s ‘captain’

Johnny Montano, aka “Captain Colby Jack,” was hard to miss among the crowd at the NFL Draft Experience.

The Green Bay Packers fan from Los Angeles had Captain America’s shield on his back, but with a green and gold color scheme and “G” in place of the star.

“It it is what it is, we need some good defense,” Montano said of the Packers’ first round pick, Devonte Wyatt, a defensive end from Georgia.

Montano was accompanied by fellow cheese heads Tammy Schleppegrell, of Las Vegas, and Denise Guerrero, of Los Angeles.

All three agreed that the Packers needed to bolster its wide receiving corps on day two to support “the GOAT” Aaron Rodgers, according to Montano.

While not as packed as on day one, the draft stage was filling up with the people ahead of the beginning of round two.

— David Wilson

1:40 p.m.

Medallions offer easy way to spot fans

There’s an easy way to spot many NFL fans from across the street during Draft weekend: Just look around their neck.

BigBallsLasVegas.com, a Fremont Street Experience vendor, sells more than NFL gear. Medallions come in logos of other leagues, with honking chickens and giant disco balls – where the booth gets its name. But it’s the $54.99-torso sized football team necklaces that are grabbing shoppers’ attention this week.

“It’s lighter than I thought,” Jake Klein, a Colts fan who purchased the necklace, said Friday.

The larger medallions can be removed from the necklace and hung on a wall or used as a magnet. Supervisor Ruben Ascencio said the necklaces are often top-sellers during football season as out-of-town fans travel for Raiders home games, but are even more popular during the draft. Lions gear, in particular, has been a hit this week, he said.

“The past few days, our sales have skyrocketed,” Ascencio said. “We’ve never experienced something like this but we got our inventory here.”

— McKenna Ross

11:00 am

‘Serious business’ for Raiders fans

Two of the more notable members of the Raiders’ infamous Black Hole stopped by Las Vegas’ most famous landmark Friday morning.

Gorilla Rilla (Mark Acasio) and Violator (Wayne Mabry) stopped by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign to take a few pictures with fans before heading to draft central.

With fans from every team in the world dressing up in various outfits, Mabry likened it to an amusement park for the sport.

“You talk about football fans being at Disney World, this is it, baby,” Mabry said. “Vegas is the spot.”

Acasio said it has been great to interact with other teams’ fan bases during draft week.

“They say are you the ones we see in Oakland, in the Black Hole?” Acasio said. “We just say, we’re the fans, we’re the nation, all of us.”

With the Raiders set to make their first pick of the draft on Friday, Mabry said that changes things for Raiders fans at the draft theater.

“Yesterday was off the chain, today it’s serious business,” he said.

Mick Akers

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