NFL Draft Day – A National Holiday

When you hear the word “holiday”, what pops into your head?


Family?  A celebration?  A big meal?  


A day off work, perhaps?


Possibly even a holiday song?  (I don’t mean the one by Madonna)   


In looking for a proper definition, I found a few different options.  Although, none of them seemed to fit every American holiday.  For example, the word “holiday” apparently comes from the phrase “holy day” referring to days celebrated by religions.  As we all know, not every holiday is a religious holiday.


Many of the definitions I found, however, had certain phrases in common.  These two stood out to me as most appropriate:


“A commemoration of an event.”




“A day of festivity or recreation.”


We have many “official” holidays in the United States.  But it seems like there are more and more “unofficial” holidays each year.  


Pie Day (3/11) or Star Wars Day (5/4) are a few examples of the more popular ones.  We have designated days to celebrate certain occupations like teachers (May) or administrative professionals (April).  Don’t forget everybody’s favorite: Take your child to work Day (also May). 


There are many food related days such as Cheeseburger Day (9/18) or my personal favorite Cheesecake Day (7/30).


There’s even a Barney and Barbie backlash Day (12/16).  Not kidding.  Google it. 


So why not have sports holidays? 


What is a sports holiday, you ask? 


It’s “a day of festivity or recreation” where we “commemorate” certain sporting events.


And no, I’m not talking about actual holidays that also have sports.  (ie, Thanksgiving and New Years have football and Christmas always has NBA.) 


Those are holidays that are made better by sports.  I’m talking about days that are made great by sports alone.  Super Bowl Sunday, for example.  Over 123.7 million people are estimated to have watched the Super Bowl last February.  That’s almost 40% of the U.S. population, and almost as many people who celebrate Halloween (140 million - according to google). Some would argue that the day after Super Bowl Sunday should be a holiday as well.  


There’s also the sports holiday I refer to as “Basketball Christmas”.  It’s the first Thursday of the NCAA basketball tournament.  With 32 teams and 16 games spread throughout the day - all televised with visual chaos, upsets and bracket busters, it is literally the greatest day of the year for basketball fans. The day after (Friday) is just as fun, with the same number of games and often the same amount of chaos. 


The past two years I’ve attended a baseball “Opening Day” party.  I gathered with friends at D&J Glove Repair, a local shop that specializes in fixing baseball mitts. We ate hot dogs and cracker jacks, talked sports and watched the Twins on TV - all in celebration of our national pastime.  


Some people even celebrate the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Mrs. Whenesota is a huge Olympics fan and even attended the Salt Lake Winter games in 2002. She watches the opening ceremonies of every Olympics. Although the closing ceremonies get a little long, It too is appointment TV in our house. 


Its very Minnesotan to celebrate Hockey Day in January but also the entire week of the State High School Hockey tournament in March. 


Where am I going with all this?


Personally, NFL Draft Day has become a sort of holiday for me over the years.  Not so much when I was a kid, but moreso recently.  I think it may be due to how the draft has changed since 2010. That year, the NFL moved the early rounds of the draft from Saturday to Thursday.  Since then, the degree of “spectacle” has increased exponentially. 


I’m not alone in my thoughts about this.  Thursday night “Draft Parties” held by NFL teams and many different local media outlets have become increasingly popular and very well attended. Each year they become more and more of an “event”. 


Draft Day even holds a special memory for our family.  Our son was born on draft night.  It was the Matt Kalil draft.  I’ll never forget the Vikings getting Cleveland to trade up and take Trent Richardson.  The Purple still got the guy they wanted in Kalil.  I also remember thinking Spielman was a genius for that trade.  Oh, how times have changed.  This was all happening while Mrs. Whenesota was on the phone with the doctor deciding when it was “go time”.  We even watched the draft in the recovery room all weekend (Okay, maybe I watched the draft while Mrs. W was napping). 


This year, Minnesotans have even more reason to be excited about the draft. At the time I am writing this, rumors are swirling that the Vikings could move up and potentially make a franchise changing QB decision. Yes, we have first round picks every year, (well, post Herschel anyways) but this year just feels different. 


My excitement level is pretty high. I plan to have neighbors over and watch on the patio (weather permitting). Not sure what I’m cooking yet, but if you know me - there will be food. 


To recap, NFL Draft Day includes, family, food and celebration.  Doesn’t that sound like a holiday to you?  All that’s missing is a day off work, and a song. 


Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be getting that day off anytime soon.  And do we really need a song? If Carrie Underwood sings an NFL Draft theme song, I won't be ‘Waiting All Day” for Thursday night.  

As Meatloaf once said, 3 out of 5 ain’t bad.


So….does NFL Draft Day qualify as a holiday?  


I say YES!  Let’s make NFL Draft Day an official holiday.  As long as we're at it, let’s make Super Bowl Sunday and MLB opening day holidays too. 


And if anyone questions you for calling Draft Day a holiday – remember that the word means “holy day”.


Then remind them who plays on Sundays.

Little known Minnesota Draft History Tidbits.


While we’re waiting for Draft Day to be recognized nationally, here are some lesser-known Minnesota draft history facts you can impress your fellow party goers with: 


A Minnesotan was the reason the NFL instituted a draft. 

The first NFL draft was held in February 1936.  Before that, NFL teams could negotiate with and sign any player that wanted to.  The reason the NFL changed to a draft system was because of Minnesotan and former Gopher running back Stan Kostka.  According to Dakota County Commissioner and historian Joe Atkins, Kostka’s post college eligibility caused a bidding war that eventually led to a record $5000 contract with the Brooklyn (football) Dodgers.  Other NFL owners’ frustrations over the bidding war led to the institution of a draft the following year.  


The Minnesota Raiders?

The first draft the Viking’s owners were involved in was held on November 22, 1959 at the Park Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis.  Future hall of famer, Jim Otto, was selected as the team’s first pick.  But it was the AFL draft – NOT the NFL draft.  In January 1960, those Minnesota owners decided to abandon that franchise and join the NFL instead - eventually becoming the Vikings franchise we know today.  That abandoned AFL franchise eventually became the Oakland Raiders.   The Raiders beat the Vikings in Super Bowl XI.


Bobby Bell

In December 1962, the Minnesota Vikings drafted former Gopher, Bobby Bell. But Bell was also drafted by the AFL’s Dallas Texans. Bell had to choose which league and team he wanted to play for. According to the Minneapolis Tribune, "the [Vikings] simply couldn't fight Lamar Hunt's money. He topped everything [they] offered."  The Texans eventually moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs.  Bobby Bell and the Chiefs defeated the Vikings in Super Bowl IV in what is considered one of the greatest upsets of all time.    


Bernie Kosar

A month before the 1985 draft, the Vikings traded their 1st and 2nd round picks to Houston to move up to #2 with the intention of selecting University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar. Kosar had other ideas. He grew up near Cleveland and wanted to play for the Browns. He strategically didn’t turn in his draft eligibility paperwork to the league office in time, and was then ineligible for the regular draft. That made him eligible for the supplemental draft later that summer and the Browns held the first pick.  Because of this incident, there is no longer a supplemental draft.

“Disco” Darrin Nelson

Prior to the 1982 draft, Darrin Nelson had sent the Vikings a letter asking them NOT to draft him because they were the ONLY team he DIDN’T want to play for.  After being selected by Minnesota, a visibly upset Nelson spoke to Minnesota reporters over the phone.  He told them that he didn't think Minnesota fit his "disco" lifestyle. A reporter informed Nelson that Minnesota too, had discos. Nelson’s reply was that Minnesota discos only played country music.


The Vikings did not have first round picks for 4 straight years from 1989 - 1992. Most people remember that 1990, 91, and 92 were traded to Dallas for Herschel Walker.  But most forget that the Vikings also didn't have a first round pick in 1989 because they traded it to Pittsburgh for LB Mike Merriweather.  

Where’s Dimitrius?

With the #29 overall pick in the 1999 draft, the Vikings selected DE Dimitrius Underwood from Michigan State.  Michigan State’s coaches had warned the Vikings that Underwood may not be ready for the pressures of the NFL.  In addition to missing a few of the team’s minicamps, Dimitrius walked out of training camp in August after one practice. He was missing for many days before turning up in Philadelphia but never returned to the Vikings. 

Getting to the Podium

During the 2002 draft, the Kansas City Chiefs were trying to make a trade with Dallas to move ahead of the Vikings who were drafting at #7.  When time ran out, the Vikings tried to hurriedly get their card to the podium, but were blocked from getting there by members of the Chiefs staff.  The trade was completed and the Chiefs drafted ahead of the Vikings.


Getting to the Podium – Part 2

In 2003 the Vikings were set to draft at #7, but failed to get their card to the podium in time while trying to work out a trade with Baltimore. Both Carolina and Jacksonville took advantage of the Vikings blunder and drafted ahead of them.  The Vikings eventually drafted Kevin Williams at #9, claiming he was the player they wanted anyway. 


A Punter?

In 2013, the Vikings used a 5th round pick on punter Jeff Locke.  At that time, only 9 punters had been drafted – EVER. 


Did you see the game?

In 2018, the Vikings used a 5th round pick on kicker Daniel Carlson.  Sports writer Michael Salfino wrote at the time, “a fifth-round pick for a kicker is more like a first-rounder for any other position.”  Carlson lasted 2 games. He was cut after missing 3 FGs in a game with the Packers that ended in a tie. 


There’s more…. The Vikings had originally traded that pick to the Jets, then traded to get the exact same pick back – AND THEN used it on a kicker. 


No Experience Necessary

In the 6th round of the 2016 draft, The Vikings drafted Moritz Boehringer, a TE from Germany who NEVER PLAYED COLLEGE FOOTBALL.  Following the pick, Spielman and Zimmer were interviewed on NFL network, sitting on a couch and giggling about it.


The Strip Sack

In the 2018 NFC championship game, the Eagles DE Derek Barnett strip sacked Vikings QB Case Keenum in one of the game’s most critical plays. The Eagles recovered the ball and never looked back - going on to win the Super Bowl…at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.  Barnett was drafted by the Eagles with the pick they had received from the Vikings in the Sam Bradford trade. 





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