NFL draft grew from a private affair to a major ‘celebration of football’ spectacle

No fans were cheering or jeering picks at the first NFL draft in 1936.

No concerts. No fireworks. Not even a stage.

Fast forward to 2019. The NFL draft, which begins Thursday in Nashville (8 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network), will combine the jubilant atmosphere of a New Year’s Eve party on Lower Broadway, the fervor of a sporting event and the spectacle of a major music festival.

The event will be broadcast by three networks and reach some 60 million viewers across all media platforms. Some 100,000 people each day are expected to come to Music City to witness pro football’s talent lottery, which is done up Nashville-style with live music as well as fan activities.

And, of course, there's the reason for the event — to watch more than 200 young players have their names called and see their athletic dreams come true.

What began as a private business affairnow attracts national attention. 

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