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My Big, Green NFL Draft Idea


The NFL Draft is one of the most popular events on the American sports calendar. Broadcast on both ESPN and the NFL Network, the first round (primetime on Thursday, May 8) now qualifies as “Must See TV”–it easily out-rates MLB and NBA playoff games. And this is for an event where games are not actually being played–teams are simply picking college players with which to fill their rosters. Unfortunately, while the NFL has a stranglehold on America’s remote controls (24 of the 25 most highly rated TV shows in the US in 2013 were NFL games), it is a laggard among the major pro leagues when it comes to sustainability. When one does a Google search for “NFL Draft green”, you get lots of Green Bay Packers results but nothing in the way of making the draft and/or the NFL more sustainable. Well, GSB has a Big, Green Draft Idea that will 1) engage NFL fans in real greening, 2) increase recycling rates at NFL games, and 3) legitimately enhance the NFL’s green image. To the NFL, we say “You’re Welcome!”

When, like me, you’re a die-hard fan of the New York Jets (aka Gang Green, owing to their green uniforms), a Big, Green Draft Idea (BGDI) might mean a trade to move up in the draft to grab a particular object of desire, as in 2009 when the Jets traded players and draft picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up and take QB Mark Sanchez of USC. OK, I’m not saying all BGDI are great ideas#. But this post is not about the Jets nor their past (often painful) drafts.


Jets Fans at Draft USA Today

A common reaction among Jets fans at the NFL Draft is stunned disbelief/disgust. (Photo Credit: USA Today)


Rather, our BGDI focuses on the NFL and sustainability. And the NFL can certainly do more in that arena. Yes, the 2013 Super Bowl in New Jersey was green in many ways. A

nd several NFL stadiums, like Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, have on-site solar power. But the NFL is alone among the Big Four domestic sports leagues (MLB, NBA and NHL are the other three) in not having a Sustainability Director. And, as far as we can tell, it’s not leveraging its biggest asset–its fans–with engagement programs that encourage green behaviors in any significant ways.
So a BGDI is needed, and here goes:

  1. All 32 NFL teams participate in a season-long contest to see which fan base can divert the most waste from landfill, via recycling, composting and up-cycling at regular season home games.
  2. Differences in stadium capacity and local recycling/composting idiosyncrasies would be controlled for.
  3. The fan base that wins earns its team a supplemental draft choice in the 3rd round of the following year’s draft. The fan base that comes in 2nd garners an extra 5th round pick for its club. And 3rd place means a supplemental 7th rounder.

To borrow from a great Guinness ad campaign of seven years ago, green behavior by fans, actually helping the team for which they root/paint their faces/lose their minds? Brilliant! You would think even climate change deniers/skeptics would put their trash in the right bin!

Now, for those dear readers who are not initiated in the ways of the NFL Draft and/or who have not seen Draft Daystarring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner, it consists of seven rounds in which the 32 teams pick in the inverse order of their finish in the previous season (worst picks first; Seattle, which won the Super Bowl, picks last).  So, there are 234 picks in a draft (32 teams x seven rounds).  Thus a third round pick would be in the top 100 of all college players picked.  It is, for a team and a fan base, a prized possession. Joe Montana and Curtis Martin were third round picks.


Joe Montana ND UNIWatch

Joe Montana, 3rd round draft pick in 1979 of the San Francisco 49’ers, while playing quarterback for Notre Dame. In GreenSportsBlog’s Big Green Draft Idea, the team whose fan base helps divert the most waste from landfill at home games will earn a supplemental 3rd round pick in the draft. (Photo Credit: UniWatch)


In addition to the 234 picks, the NFL adds about 30 more picks to the draft by awarding teams with supplemental (i.e. additional) selections if, basically, they lose more free agents than they sign in the offseason.

Those supplemental picks are awarded from the third to the seventh rounds. If you want to learn more about how supplemental picks work, well, you’re out of luck–it’s more complicated than string theory. For our purposes, the key point is this: An extra 3rd round picks is super-valuable (fifth and seventh rounders, while less valued than thirds, are still important). Do you think that qualifies as a BGDI? Let us know!

# Truth be told, I was in favor of the trade for Sanchez at the time and, for the first two years of his career with the Jets (2009-10), it looked like a brilliant move as they made the AFC Championship Game in both seasons. But, for a variety of reasons, the wheels fell off from 2011-13 and Sanchez was recently released and picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles to be their backup this season.

Please comment below!
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  1. Interesting post, love your passion!!

  2. Thanks, Alan! I would start going to Jets games again, work the tailgate areas to get Jets fans to recycle and compost if that would get them another 3rd rounder!

  3. This sounds like a great idea. What a way to encourage fans to participate in being more sustainable. It’s really beneficial for all.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Lisa, and for reading GreenSportsBlog! I’m going to reach out to the NFL with the idea–will be interested to see their reaction.

  5. have the stadiums let people bring in food and drink that are ONLY in reusable containers! walk in with them, walk out with them , zero garbage.

  6. Thanks for the comment, Jim. Cool idea, borderline great. The challenge is that most if not all stadiums (at least all of the ones I know of) don’t allow folks to bring containers in. That ban became pretty much universal post 9-11. There is a legit security issue (solvable, methinks), but this policy has the convenient (for the team) effect of forcing fans to buy their food/drink inside the stadium.

    1. the same way you can register with airport security so you dont have to get screened everytime, register with stadium security that youre not a threat , get kinda a VIP status then youre entitled to bring in reusable containers.

  7. Brilliant! I’m building a list of green, fan-engagement ideas to bring to leagues and teams and this will be one of them!

  8. Great ideas here as always Lewis! Here’s something your readers will be interested in: Fans Without Footprints has a bag full of engagement ideas as you know and now FWF has it’s very own Fan Rewards app for iPhone and Android rewarding fans for their green actions like transportation, recycling, sharing, and using our proprietary Augmented Reality scanner plus sponsor billboards. Interested in a demo please contact us at http://www.fanswithoutfootprints.com

  9. Hi Harry: Thanks for the comment. Let us know how it goes with FWF.

  10. […] (tie) July, 2013: The Soccket, Soccer Ball That Lights Up Lives and April, 2013: My Big, Green NFL Draft Idea […]

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