Eagles Roundtable: Grading the Eagles 2017 NFL Draft
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Philadelphia, Fans Steal the Show at NFL Draft

By Jesse Larch, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

There was no mention of snowballs or wristbands or batteries. There was only praise.

Philadelphia proved to be the perfect host to the NFL Draft as it seeks a new home after their falling out with Radio City Music Hall two years ago, and the often criticized fans of the city were the shining stars of the weekend.

The Ben Franklin Parkway seemed like the perfect location to be the new permanent home for the NFL's yearly job fair, with national institutions like the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art as the focal points, how could the NFL go wrong?

The answer is that they could not. The Parkway was bustling with energy early on Thursday, with fans flocking to the city to take part in the draft festivities, and it lasted all the way to the final day of the draft on Saturday.

Entertainment was not an issue, with simulations of combine events and other entertainment keeping fans occupied until the main event grasped the attention of everyone in attendance. 

The event opened with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell putting the Cleveland Browns on the clock, but not before he was met with the warmest of Philly welcomes:

Goodell was a good sport about it, encouraging the Philadelphia faithful to keep the boos coming. With all of the criticism that Goodell receives, the commissioner handled the weekend with class, from his administrative responsibilities to his interactions with the community and the at-times intimidating Philadelphia media. 

The crowd was red-hot from the first pick of the night to the last. The atmosphere that the city of Philadelphia created was marveled by veterans of the sports world all weekend long:

NFL Network's Charles Davis, who posted the last tweet, was advocating often on Day 2 to bring the draft back to the City of Brotherly Love, as was Philadelphia native and top draft analyst Mike Mayock. Mayock even shared that the stone-faced head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick, called him to express how incredible the atmosphere was even over the television broadcasts. 

On Day 2, the Philadelphia crowd yet again provided an electric atmosphere, especially during the Eagles first selection of day two, when the whole crowd sang the Eagles fight song together following the selection of Washington cornerback Sidney Jones:

The crowd was more involved than the league could have dreamed of. Usually, Day 2 is when the draft loses steam, but the draft still had the atmosphere of Day 1 as fans cheered and booed relentlessly. 

This was the party of the year. Close to 100,000 people filled the Parkway on each of the first two nights making noise that surprised even the NFL, who holds the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium. 

As an event, Philadelphia brought the NFL Draft to new heights. Eagles legend Brian Dawkins made it a point to congratulate the fans effort.

"Philadelphia, you ought to be proud of yourselves. You are representing right now. See, you have set the bar of what the draft is supposed to be like," Dawkins said as he and Brian Westbrook kicked off Day 3 of the draft alongside the NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations and former Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent.

Philadelphia has added to its reputation as a wild sports town, but this time with no negative storyline. The city displayed that its fans have more class than they are ever given credit for, and the NFL noticed. Eagles legendary quarterback Ron Jaworski, who had a hand in organizing the event, told the media that Roger Goodell is interested in bringing the draft back to Philadelphia in 2018 after the awe-inspiring turnout of this year's event. 

The city set an attendance record for the draft with over 100,000 fans estimated to have been in attendance on the first day. By the end of the three-day event, Philadelphia ran away with the attendance record with upwards of 250,000 people having taken part in the draft festivities.

Even Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney could not resist gushing about how the city behaved during the event.

"We gained a lot of revenue from this and we also gained notoriety around the country and around the world that you can’t buy," Kenney said. 

Over the past 12 months, the city of Philadelphia has hosted Pope Francis, the Democratic National Convention, and now the NFL Draft to establish the city as a cultural beacon.

The draft generated income for the city in the form of taxes, labor and hospitality, among other sectors. The draft benefited the city, and the city revived interest in the draft that has been declining since the NFL took the event on the road two years ago.

On draft weekend, the people of Philadelphia let the world know what we are all already aware of, that this city is one of the greatest sports cities in the country. 

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