99°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

NFL draft will give sports fans the escape they need

In the global pandemic that is the coronavirus, sports remain a bug on the windshield. I know. They still matter to those of us who spend our lives trying to avoid being squished by those darn wiper blades.

Darwin said the species that survives is the one most adaptable.

Pfft. What did he know?

Thursday night’s draft as a virtual experience is one more reminder that our world has changed. Roger Goodell will announce first-round selections from his basement. Nobody wants to shake the commissioner’s hand this time, anyway. Or anyone’s hand.

Las Vegas was scheduled to host the annual spectacle and the hundreds of thousands of fans who would have descended upon the town in a celebratory and mostly inebriated state. If there’s really no party like a Detroit party, a close second are drunk folks wearing Jets jerseys and booing the snot out of whoever the team selects. We will miss them dearly.

We instead get Goodell hoping any long-tailed critters haven’t chewed through wires that lead to his router. Shouldn’t be an issue. I would think his underground dwelling might give the most striking of two-story Colonials a run for design. His annual salary of $40 million can afford a few big screens.

Football fans need this. Not in the way those on the front lines fighting COVID-19 need and deserve our respect. Not in the way such a common enemy has reminded us of that which is truly valuable.

We just need normal for a few hours. How much have we taken that for granted?

“The reality is people are looking for hope,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent told Yahoo Sports this week. “America is in a place we have not seen in a few decades. We just hope our sport gives you an alternative to get your minds off what we’re faced with every time we turn on the television, every time we pick up the paper.”

His point: It’s not wrong to both grasp the severity of the virus and also feel a huge crater of disappointment that our favorite sports have gone dark. It’s why Joe Burrow is so important.

The star quarterback from Louisiana State not only represents an opportunity for the Bengals to prove they’re not a completely inept franchise by selecting him No. 1 overall, but such a beginning to a seven-round draft over three days allows us to escape all the bad news.

Nothing in American sports rivals NFL fans for passion. It’s a unique fraternity with 32 chapters. Think about it. While social distancing has created a sense of safety, it has also lessened our connection with others. So even if it means sharing the draft and all its unknowns with loved ones or friends via a screen, we gain back some of togetherness that seems lost.

After all, boozed up Jets fans are just as amusing on a smart phone.

Boo your hearts out

I want to see who might trade up to grab either Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert. I want to see if either (or both) quarterbacks slip. I want to see which wide receiver Jon Gruden really prefers. I want to see if the IT person for Detroit, who will be stationed in a Winnebago outside the home of general manager Bob Quinn, is really Cousin Eddie from “Christmas Vacation.” I want to see how much Love there is for Jordan.

I want to see those screens of each team’s fans behind Goodell unmercifully booing him. I want everyone else at home to film themselves doing the same, because Bud Light will donate up to $500,000 off such clips for organizations helping people affected by COVID-19.

It’s true we appreciate things a lot more now. When was the last time we thought about the importance of scientific advancement this much? About any form of science? About online education? About the fragile state of small businesses?

They, along with countless other storylines highlighted more now by the virus, won’t be any less important come Sunday.

Sports fans now, however, should enjoy every second of the next three days.

It’s not the NFL draft Las Vegas dreamed about.

But, man, is it needed.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation
Raiders Videos
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
Raiders preseason could play bigger role than usual - Video
The Raiders released the team's preseason schedule and this year's matchups could play a bigger role than usual.
Analysis on the Raiders Schedule: Tough Stretches, Season Odds and More - VIDEO
Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and columnist Ed Graney break down what to anticipate when the Raiders face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a primetime game at Allegiant Stadium, the odds on the team's season wins, what stretches may be the toughest on the schedule and more. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden reacts to Raiders schedule - Video
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden shares his thoughts on his team's schedule for the 2020 season.
Raiders to host 4 prime-time games in 2020 - Video
The 2020 NFL schedule has been released and the Las Vegas Raiders are set to host four prime-time games.
Vegas Nation: Raiders to face Brady's Buccaneers after Bye Week - VIDEO
Vegas Nation podcast host Heidi Fang and columnist Ed Graney break down what to anticipate when the Raiders face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a primetime game at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 25 coming off their bye week. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review Journal)
Raiders will host Saints in Allegiant Stadium home opener - Video
The Las Vegas Raiders will open up Allegiant Stadium by hosting the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 21 for a Monday night matchup.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Tanner Muse Interview
Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto interviews new Las Vegas Raider and 100th pick in the NFL Draft Tanner Muse.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special Day 3 - Best and Worst War Rooms
Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto and Review-Journal sportswriter Ben Gotz discuss the winners and losers of the first ever NFL Virtual draft war room set ups.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special Day 3 - Draft Analysis
Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto discusses day three of the NFL Draft and the Raiders final picks with Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and Raiders beat writer Vinny Bonsignore.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Raiders Day 2 Draft Picks
The Raiders made the 80th, 81st and 100th pick in the 2020 NFL draft selecting Lynn Bowden Jr - Wide Receiver from Kentucky, Bryan Edwards - wide receiver from South Carolina and Tanner Muse - linebacker from Clemson. Vegas Nation Host Cassie Soto discusses the pick with Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney and Raiders beat writer Vinny Bonsignore.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Big Names From Around the League
Review-Journal sports writer Ben Gotz gives an update of some of the big name players taken in the first round of this years NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: 2020 Draft Special - Henry Ruggs III
With the first pick in Las Vegas Raiders history the silver and black drafted wide receiver Henry Ruggs III out of Alabama. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto discusses the pick with Review-Journal Columnist Ed Graney and Raiders beat writer Vinny Bonsignore.
Brent Musburger talks Raiders and the upcoming NFL draft
Broadcaster and Raiders Play-by-Play announcer Brent Musburger discusses the Las Vegas Raiders and the upcoming NFL draft with Review-Journal sportswriter Adam Hill.
Raiders logo goes up on Henderson headquarters - VIDEO
The iconic Raiders emblem gets installed on the team's headquarters and practice facility in Henderson on April 22, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: Raiders 2020 Draft Preview - Video
Vegas Nation: Raiders 2020 Draft Preview will include a recap of the 2019 draft class, free agency updates and multiple segments discussing the class of 2020. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto will be joined by Raiders beat writers Vinny Bonsignore and Myles Simmons, as well as sports writer Adam Hill to discuss all things NFL draft. The draft preview show also included interviews with 2019 draft picks Hunter Renfrow and Isaiah Johnson.
Allegiant Stadium lights up the night
Crews at the $2 billion, 65,000-seat stadium Tuesday night tested out the architectural light ribbons that run around various sections of the stadium, showing the facility will offer a distinct feel no matter what time of day it is.
2019 NFL Draft Flashback: The Raiders 2019 Draft Class - VIDEO
A look back at the Raiders 2019 Draft Class and an assessment of their production last season. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2019 NFL Draft Flashback: Mayock and Gruden on What Makes a Raider - VIDEO
A look back at what the team of Gruden and Mayock did in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft and what qualities they looked for in players when evaluating them and what went into their decisions to select who they did. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Crews finish Allegiant Stadium roof panel installation in just over a month
The final panels made of ETFE — ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a fluorine-based plastic — were installed on the 65,000-seat stadium on Tuesday, marking the latest major milestone for the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football.
Raiders request road be named Raiders Way
The Raiders have requested that the road where their Henderson HQ is located be renamed Raiders Way. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayock: Raiders Need to get Better at Wideout
Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock talked on a conference call about the team's need for a wide receiver and the approach they can take for acquiring one in a talent-rich 2020 draft class. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Stadium roof install is complete - Video
The full enclosure of Allegiant Stadium was topped off on Tuesday after the final ETFE panels were installed.
Low-Tech Raiders' GM Talks Preparing for Virtual Draft Format - VIDEO
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock discussed on a conference call what he anticipates a virtual NFL Draft to be like and how he is adjusting to newer technology he'll have to use to work effectively during the three-day event. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quarantine with Las Vegas Raiders players – Video
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow and cornerback Isaiah Johnson have been doing their best to keep themselves busy during quarantine. Renfrow is spending his time in South Carolina, while Johnson is in Houston. The 2019 rookies both suffered injuries this past season and were hoping to come back stronger than ever the second time around, but the coronavirus had different plans for the NFL offseason. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto spoke with both players and asked how they have been staying in shape as well as what shows they have binge watched during quarantine.
Raiders partner with Three Square - Video
Las Vegas Raiders players, including Hunter Renfrow, Alec Ingold, Josh Jacobs and Foster Moreau, are partnering with Three Square to help make sure those in need have access to food during the coronavirus pandemic.
Raiders extend season ticket dues - Video
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Las Vegas Raiders are extending final season ticket dues until the summer.
Raiders fullback Alec Ingold ready to play in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Raiders fullback Alec Ingold sits down with the RJ and talks about the excitement surrounding the team's move to Las Vegas during off-season training in Wisconsin. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ikem Okeke Trying to get Noticed By NFL Scouts With His Pro Day Canceled Due to Coronavirus - Video
Ikem Okeke is a Bishop Gorman High alum who played his college football at Hawaii. After his pro day was canceled due to the coronavirus, he's attempting to catch the attention of NFL scouts by creating his own workout using the same company that tests at the combine. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Justin Herbert: Forcing Himself to be Uncomfortable to Become an NFL Quarterback
In order to become a prolific quarterback in the NFL, Oregon's Justin Herbert says he is going to have to make himself uncomfortable and put himself in challenging situations in order to improve at his position. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Worker at Allegiant Stadium tests positive for COVID-19
Construction of Allegiant Stadium is unlikely to affected by the coronavirus outbreak that is having an impact on just about every industry across the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Agree to Terms with WR Nelson Agholor - VIDEO
On Saturday the Raiders agreed to terms with wide receiver Nelson Agholor,  offensive lineman Eric Kush, tight end Nick O’Leary and running back Rod Smith, who appeared in the team’s final three games last season as a special teams player. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Agree to Terms with CB Eli Apple - VIDEO
The Raiders have come to terms with cornerback Eli Apple, who last played with the New Orleans Saints. Apple was drafted 10th overall in 2016 by the New York Giants. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders sign LB Littleton, DE Nassib, more
On the second day of the legal tampering period in the NFL, the Raiders picked up linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive end Carl Nassib, tight end Jason Witten and more. Here's a recap of the action from Tuesday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders strengthen defense in free agency - Video
Some of the Raiders biggest struggles in the past seasons have come from the defense. Now, in free agency, the front office is making big moves to improve that side of the ball. Vegas Nation crew Cassie Soto and Myles Simmons bring you the latest in Raiders free agency.
Raiders make big free agency moves on offense - Video
The Raiders continue to make big moves on offense, including signing long-time Cowboy Jason Witten. Vegas Nation crew Cassie Soto and Myles Simmons bring you the latest in Raiders free agency.
Raiders and Cory Littleton agree to terms - VIDEO
Linebacker Cory Littleton, a 2018 Pro Bowler who played in Super Bowl 53 with the Los Angeles Rams, has agreed to terms with the Las Vegas Raiders. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marcus Mariota is a Raider - Video
The Raiders have signed quarterback Marcus Mariota as a backup to Derek Carr.
A Flyover of Allegiant Stadium At Night - VIDEO
Here's a look at the new home of the Raiders, Allegiant Stadium, at night from this flyover near the Las Vegas Strip.
Raiders Agree to Terms with Mariota, LB Kwiatkoski
A recap of the moves made as the NFL stays open for business transactions with unrestricted free agents being signed during the legal tampering period. The Raiders signed linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski and former Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.  (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Nation: NFL Draft Canceled in Las Vegas, Legal Tampering Period Open - VIDEO
On Monday, the NFL announced the draft and its planned festivities would no longer take place in Las Vegas though the draft itself will still take place Apr. 23-25 as scheduled. The Raiders grabbed former Bears LB Nick Kwiatkoski in the first day of the legal tampering period. The Vegas Nation team breaks down the latest news in this update.(Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Love, Hurts Among QBs Raiders Could Target in NFL Draft - VIDEO
The Raiders may look to select a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft and have 5 picks in the top 100. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and Utah State's Jordan Love could be among those the team has on their watchlist. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders stadium gets its new name installed
Aerial view of newly installed signage for Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Stadium sign installation (timelapse) - VIDEO
Watch the name of the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas go up in less that a minute. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
First signage going up at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
As Allegiant Stadium’s exterior has come into form, the dark tinted glass has drawn various nicknames. Now, however, the stadium will begin to reflect its official name. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST