The NFL Draft is already the center of the sports universe on an otherwise afterthought of a weekend in late April, but this year the draft is being held in the capital of country music?! Talk about the best of both worlds! Nashville is the host of this year’s NFL draft, which starts Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET and runs through Saturday (beginning at noon.) It will bring some of the best acts in country music, incredible nightlife, and the enthusiasm of one of the best tailgating events in sports to one location. Some 100,000 people are expected to converge on Nashville for each day of the draft, and why the heck not? (For those who can’t, here’s a complete TV schedule for how you can catch the draft, click here.)
Country music icon Tim McGraw is the headliner of a free concert, taking the stage after the final pick of the third round on Friday night. Dierks Bentley will close out the three-day event with a free performance Saturday after the draft ends, capping a run of 20 musical guests over the three days.
McGraw was on the steering committee that helped bring the draft to Nashville. (The draft was held in New York for 57 years before the NFL took it on the road with stops in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas and next year Las Vegas.) McGraw told the Associated Press he started envisioning what a draft in Nashville could look like while watching 250,000 show up in Philadelphia for the 2017 NFL draft.
“My first thought was, ‘Man I’d love to be down there and do a big concert right in the middle of Broadway down there with the stadium as a backdrop for the weekend of the draft,'” McGraw told the Associated Press. “I just thought it was something very special and I wanted to be involved with it. And I wanted to get it here.”
Country star Luke Bryan is actually “crossing over” for this event, joining ABC’s broadcast team, alongside Robin Roberts. ABC, ESPN and NFL Network are all broadcasting live. Tune in at 7 p.m. Thursday night to see if the Arizona Cardinals do indeed take Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma with the No. 1 overall pick or stir the pot by trading the pick. All the drama – set to an incredible Nashville soundtrack – is about to unfold.
“I think every year we have raised the bar, and I am incredibly confident that in Nashville, we’ll raise it again,” said Matt Shapiro, Vice President, Event Strategy & Integration at the National Football League. “Just how special that downtown area is, and the energy that comes on every single day of the week, it is a really exciting prospect to think about bringing the energy and excitement of our draft to an area that on its own has that level of energy and excitement. I think it has that multiplier effect that puts the draft at a level we’ve never seen before.”