The final day of the 2012 National Football League season leaves many fans on the edge of their seats with a taste of victory or disappointment.  Just like players and the front office, the football season does not end for fans in January or the first Sunday in February.

Being a football fan is a lifelong commitment of dedication and passion through the good times and the bad. It is enduring the pain of the Detroit Lions 0-16 campaign and praying they make the right moves in the offseason. It is cherishing the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl victory with the hopes of not dismantling the team for the upcoming 2013 season. Yet, until NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces the words “With the first pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, sports writers spend months speculating the draft while fans debate their teams needs.

However, it is the fan experience that marks one the most overlooked parts of draft weekend. The NFL fan gets to share this with both team and city. It marks a special moment between the organization and the NFL because it gives the fan a chance to see who, quite possibly, might be the next Hall of Famer.  Are these draft picks going to be the next Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf? Who is going to be the next Tom Brady or Shannon Sharpe?

Even though these questions will not be answered until the first game of 2013 and beyond next season, the NFL draft provides the perfect opportunity for fans to come together once again before the season starts to take part in the rituals of football. Whether it is at the local bar drinking beer or eating wings at a friend’s house, the draft experience reignites old rivalries and heated debate during the seven months hiatus.

The draft only reinforces this passion for the upcoming season emphasizing this devotion and commitment of NFL fans. For those New York Jets’ fans cheering or booing their first round pick at Radio City Music Hall, love them or hate them, they capture the fan experience on draft day. Yet, they represent a small part of the millions who will be glued to their televisions anticipating their team’s first pick and debating today, tomorrow, and this weekend if they will be the true star of the show.  

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