The NFL Is Sending Every First-Round Draft Prospect a Hat and Jersey From All 32 Teams
This year’s NFL draft is going to be a little different. The players won’t get to take the stage to hold up their new team’s jersey. The fans won’t get to mercilessly boo NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in person. (They can still do it from home, but it just doesn’t hit the same.)
One thing will remain relatively close to normal, however: The players will still get to toss on a baseball cap with their new team’s logo once they get drafted. Making that happen is actually kind of a funny process.
For this year’s purely digital draft, players will have to sift through a box containing 32 hats and 32 jerseys for the right ones when their name is called.
The items went only to players who are projected to go in the first round, but that still amounts to almost 2,000 hats and jerseys sent out in total. Obviously that’s not the case for a physical draft, so there’s going to be plenty of leftovers.
This GIF is probably the most accurate description of the draft's whole vibe:
Take a shot at what NFL team will take @ljw21 in the draft!
— Wyoming Cowboy Football (@wyo_football) April 22, 2020
Highly-touted quarterback prospect Tua Tagovailoa said that once he dons his new team’s gear, he’ll ask friends and family which jerseys and hats they went.
“I’d give them a hat. I’d give them a jersey,” he told Yahoo Sports. “And if [anything is left], I’d probably just send them back to the NFL."
There’s a lot that can go wrong here. For one thing, there will probably be technical difficulties. But if we’re just talking about the jerseys and hats, you know someone is going to grab the wrong one in the heat of the moment. This is, after all, the culmination of a lifetime of work and a dream coming true for these guys. Adrenaline will be rushing. Their families will be jumping around and screaming. If I were actually in Vegas for this, I’d bet a considerable amount of money that someone’s going to get drafted by the Chargers and throw on a Rams hat by mistake (the new logo is pretty confusing, after all). It’ll be a meme tomorrow. Maybe a T-shirt in a week. And then we’ll move on.
There’s also high probability that a lot of these hats and jerseys are going to end up on the resale market. Especially since they’re coming from what will be, by that time, first-round draft picks, a leftover hat or jersey will have more value on the likes of eBay and other sites.
Because the NFL uses special one-off hat designs for the draft, they immediately become time capsule-like commemorative items once the draft is over. This year is no exception, with the Vegas lights-influenced designs and the novelty of the Draft From Home. If you throw in that this Patriots hat was from Philadelphia Eagles draftee CeeDee Lamb’s leftover pile, you can get a little more scratch online.
Even more interesting is that this will be the debut of Las Vegas Raiders gear, so Raider Nation will want to get their hands on it.
Finally, these drafts are finicky. Yes, the experts are almost Nostradamian in their prediction ability, but there will always be variables. Someone who was projected to go in the third might end up going in the first. (We’re looking at you, Eagles. Do the right thing. Trade up for a good wide receiver.) In that case, the shot is going to awkwardly cut over to a young man at home with no box of hats and jerseys to put on. He won’t even be wearing a suit, since according to Yahoo the players were told not to wear suits for this whole shindig.