Ever since I stopped going over to ESPN for any of my sports news - it has been four years and counting now - I have found myself needing to always keep my eyes open when it comes to obtaining information and insight for all things Patriots. And while Pats Pulpit always has been, and always will be, my favorite source of Patriots news, a very close second is PatsFans.com. If you aren't familiar with the site, do yourself a favor and add it to your rotation; they do great work.
And while I was perusing the site this afternoon during my (extended) lunch break, I can across this piece suggesting that Patriots fans everywhere boycott the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft. With no 1st round pick to speak of (at least not at the moment; there is always wheeling and dealing to be done) and New England not scheduled to make their first selection until late in the 2nd round, the writers over at PatsFans.com are imploring Patriots fans to hit the NFL in the only place they will ever care about - the wallet - by not tuning in when the draft kicks off on April 28th. It has never been more clear as it has the past few seasons that things are never going to change in this league until it stops becoming profitable, and thus the only way that we as fans can make any kind of difference is to deny the league the ratings - and thus the revenue - that comes with our viewership. And since there is absolutely zero chance that we will ever stop watching the actual games, opting not to watch the 1st round of the single biggest event of the NFL offseason is one way that we can try to hit the league where it counts.
Now I don't know about any of you, but I for one absolutely LOVE the draft. Not only does it represent a nice little oasis in the vast desert of the league offseason, but there is just something about the energy, the pageantry, and getting to witness the exact moment when a bunch of kids' dreams come true that makes the whole event something special. I have always watched the entire first round excitedly, and then I will have the draft on the TV for the bulk of the weekend while I'm doing stuff around the apartment. I keep an eye on the trades, laugh at the Jets fans booing their first round pick, and sprint to the computer to look up the player - and sometimes even the school - that New England just added to their roster so I can start yet another wonderful football fan tradition: spinning a draft selection to make it seem like your team just magically got the missing puzzle piece that will allow them to go on an undefeated run. I love everything about draft weekend, and I make no apologies about it.
Should I sit this year out? Should we all?
Personally, I'm torn on where I stand here. On one hand, I can't shake the feeling that the act of boycotting the NFL Draft will not only not make a difference in the slightest, but will invite a whole new batch of "look at the whiny Patriots fans" comments that we all love so much from those whose greatest joy in life is taking down the Patriots at every possible opportunity. If this were to perhaps grow into a larger movement, where fans of all 32 teams were to express their displeasure with what the current regime is doing to this sport, then there may be some actual weight to it. But a relatively tiny handful of fans choosing to spend their Thursday night doing something other than watching suited men read names off of a card likely isn't going to do a damn thing to start getting this sport back on track.
On the other hand, taking that kind of attitude is a surefire way to make sure that nothing ever changes, and you can only enact change by taking charge of what you can control. If enough Pats fans sit this year's draft out, then a statement will have been made and ratings will suffer, no matter how insignificantly. And at the end of the day, what are you really missing? You'll be able to go on Twitter, or online, and see who the Patriots drafted in a matter of seconds. Sure, you won't actually hear Roger Goodell butchering these kids' names live, but is that really such a huge price to pay in order to play some small part in not contributing money to the NFL?
I'm not going to tell anyone what I think they should do one way or another; all I wanted to to this afternoon is let you all know that there are a group of Patriots fans calling for a boycott of the draft this year, and leave you to make up your own minds on whether or not you choose to participate. I doubt the NFL is going to fold if we don't tune in...but as I have always said, if you're going to complain about something, you should also be prepared to do something about it as well.