Always. Be. Drafting.

Originally posted on LinkedIn, April 2018:

Today is one of my favorite days.

Every year, regardless of the forecast, the sun seems to shine brighter. The intensity of honking horns or airport announcements seems to melt into the background. Birds seem to chirp louder. Skipping to the subway, instead of hurried walking, is under consideration. Yes, it's idealistic, but it is the honest truth. This is how I feel about #DraftDay.

And sure, the NFL (National Football League, or however you define the acronym) has come under fire for a myriad of reasons in recent seasons. And yes, when the 'Commish' announces the Draft officially open in Arlington tonight, there will be boos from those gathered.

...But there will also be his sly smile anticipating the clamor of the crowd. The excitement in the room, and felt through your screen(s), will be palpable.

Regardless of your fandom or opinions of the NFL itself, #DraftDay, across all major leagues, is monumentally important. It represents much more than the pomp and circumstance that surrounds it. It represents the start of something for: someone, some family, some franchise. It's the culmination of years of hard work for an athlete. It's a, albeit brief, moment for friends and family to exhale, knowing their dedication and commitment to pushing their player along whatever winding path was worth it.

Of course additional storylines will unfold and some disappointments will be felt across the pool of future stars and fans alike. But the gust of wind that follows the Draft brings fresh air into the off-season that is undeniable.

Rookies can challenge the status quo; invigorating seasoned athletes by creating a sense of urgency and competition. Front offices are forced to learn to work with what they've acquired and be open to change. And fans embrace seemingly endless possibilities.

So, as you tune-in at 8pm/EST on FoxNFL NetworkESPN (really no way to miss it), drop the cynicism - if only for a few seconds. You can go back to being a hater tomorrow. Just for tonight, remember why you love the game, why it's still played, what sports, overall, teaches so many.

Or, if you are so bold: consider packing up the anticipation and excitement; use the exhilaration as refreshment for your everyday. Consider the thought that, perhaps, we should always be drafting.

After all, we're all on the clock.

Raleigh Anne Gray