A draft war room is a unique place. Those who have been a part of it, whether in the NFL or any other professional league, will most likely tell you it’s some of the most beautiful chaos they’ve ever seen. Coaches calling names, crossing players off, talking with other teams, picking their guys. Owners, GMs and league managers writing down selections, regulating deals, explaining the do’s and don’ts, and keeping the chaos from taking over.
During MLFB’s inaugural draft, Thomas Neumann of ESPN.com sat in the league’s main war room in Lakewood Ranch, FL as each pick came across the line. This morning Neumann published what he observed over that weekend.
A voice comes over the speaker phone.
“Hello, this is Dave Campo.”
Former All-Pro wide receiver Wes Chandler, sitting with his laptop open on a broad table in an office boardroom, warmly greets the onetime Dallas Cowboys head coach.
“Camp, how you doin’? It’s a historic day for Major League Football.”
With that, Chandler invites Campo to begin the draft for a fledgling pro football league. It’s a moment seven years in the making, and the coaches and general managers of MLFB’s eight franchises are on a conference call to begin assembling teams that have yet to be officially named. After tryouts across the country last year, nearly 2,000 players are under contract for the selection process.
Then Campo announces the first pick in MLFB history: “Today, it’s my pleasure to announce the franchise selection for Team Campo: Joe Adams, wide receiver/kick returner, University of Arkansas.”
Neumann witnessed firsthand what it was like to draft a league from ground zero. To put the magnitude of this draft into perspective, the 2015 NFL Draft had 256 selections. This MLFB draft had 560.
While he was there, Neumann was able to sit down with some of the league’s front office members including Nick Athan, Frank Murtha and even the league’s president Wes Chandler. Some of Neumann’s questions were answered with simple facts such as how the league’s draft was set up and how many selections were going to be made. But other questions called for deeper answers. Like why this league will succeed when the ashes of other leagues like it are still burning.
No matter who Neumann asked that question to, anyone involved with the league had an answer. An answer formed from cautiousness, education, innovation, and drive.
Chandler insists he isn’t whistling past the pro football graveyard.
He sees the tombstones of the WFL, USFL, NFL Europe, XFL and UFL. But Chandler, 59, contends that MLFB has learned from the mistakes of those defunct forerunners, and he speaks from decades of knowledge.
To read the full answer from Chandler, and the rest of Nuemann’s article, click here: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14748865/major-league-football-new-spring-league-begins-taking-shape