NFL Draft returning to Philadelphia? Ron Jaworski offers updates, says ‘we want it back’
GRANTVILLE — Ron Jaworski said he should know by late June or early July if the NFL draft will return to Philadelphia in 2018, and he’s itching to learn the answer.
Tuesday night at the Mid Penn Bank Celebrity Golf Tournament benefit dinner for the Pa. Breast Cancer Coalition, Jaworski was buzzing about the possibility. The former Eagles quarterback told PennLive the NFL and Philadelphia have a mutual option for the draft to return in 2018, and he said several city officials are in favor of another go-around.
Jaworski served as the co-chairman on the committee that brought the draft to Philly this year. The three-day event stretched from April 27 to 29, attracted a record 250,000 fans to a festival along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and included an open-air theater atop the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps.
While some Philadelphians voiced displeasure over road closures and other inconveniences in the run-up to the draft, NFL analysts widely praised the city as a 2017 draft host.
“To see it represent our region as well it did,” Jaworski said, “it gave me goosebumps.”
The NFL draft spent a half-century in New York before the league shifted the event to Chicago in 2015. It returned to the Windy City in 2016, before the NFL brought the event to Philly this year.
Jaworski said the league will continue to move the draft around, but he wants it to stay in Philadelphia for a second year, just as it did in Chicago.
The morning after the final day of the draft, Jaworski said he spoke with Mayor Jim Kenney, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and officials at the Philadelphia visitor’s bureau to discuss the draft’s future. He said everyone he talked to was thrilled with the turnout of the event in 2017 and hopeful for its return.
“Everyone was so pumped and excited,” Jaworski said. “At this point, I would be disappointed if we didn’t get it back. I thought the way we showed our region to the world was so positive that I think it’d be difficult for the NFL to say, ‘Na, we don’t want it back.’ And I know we want it back. I know our fans want it back.”
The NFL, though, might be eager to continue changing the draft’s location, considering the enthusiasm emanating out of Philadelphia last month, Jaworski said. But the one-time Birds signal-caller and ESPN analyst hopes the league waits until 2019 to test out other cities as the draft’s host.
“Eventually Dallas is going to get it, Canton [Ohio] is going to get it, L.A. is going to get it,” Jaworski said. “We know it’s a great event, but we raised the bar to another level. So I think they have to say up on Park Avenue, ‘Hey, Philadelphia deserves another opportunity.'”
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