Article & Photos by Allison Smith
I was not at the actual draft in Dallas, but I was at the Atlanta Falcons’ official Draft party at Mercedes Benz Stadium, “The Benz Nest.”
This was another great event hosted by Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank. This was a free event for Season Ticket owners, you merely had to register. Much of the stadium and many food vendors were open, mostly the main level and parts of the 200 level. Yet another event where you almost didn’t realize there was not a game to be played by the attendance and activity.
Fans were allowed on the field, where the RISEUP sign was displayed, corn hole was set up, along with many football skill games and local radio and other booths were on the field. Many people stayed on the field the entire time. Several Falcon players were also on the field, signing and taking pictures with fans.
Meanwhile, we were also allowed in the locker room, where my feature photo here was taken. We followed the tunnel along a short path into the locker room where you could see several jerseys displayed. Then you could head back out to the field to hang out or back up to the main level to see the sites or grab some food.
I toured the locker room, chatted with several Benz Nest employees and headed back up. The radio ship of the Falcons, 92.9 The Game was broadcasting the draft and the local commentary leading up to the draft. Randy McMichael, Carl Dukes, Mike Bell, and Chuck Smith provided insight into the Falcons as well as the other teams ahead of the Falcons. I was able to chat with Chuck briefly, but had great time with Carl and Mike, speculating, chatting about FalconAlley Football, and about the event overall. Harry Douglas was on hand for a radio interview, then taking pictures with fans as well. Many current players were on hand to chat with 92.9 The Game as well.
The players that were on hand, spoke to 92.9 The Game, then signed autographs and took pictures as well. There were some on the field, some in the upper level, and at two stations on the main level of The Benz Nest. I worked my way back and forth on the main level, so missed some other great guys, but did get some of my favorites. Unfortunately, the elusive Ben Garland was already in Dallas preparing to announce the 3rd pick, so he was not available, however, there were some big stars at the Falcons Draft event.
Grady Jarrett, Keanu Neal, Takk McKinley, Deion Jones were all on the main level, along with numerous cheerleaders. I know that De’Vondre Campbell was at one of the special areas upstairs, as I saw his interview, but he was whisked away. While I missed a picture with Takk, I did see him close up and he seemed like a great guy. Did get pictures with Grady, Kiki, and Debo. Got to chat with them for a few minutes, but of course there was a huge line of us fans running around after all of them.
Overall, it was a great event. I did not stay until our pick as it was so late, but did see many of the early picks as they were displayed on the million tv’s throughout the stadium.
Check out my YouTube channel for my announcement and thoughts on the 2nd day picks. Our FalconAlley Football Facebook page has pictures from the Draft Day event.
Now, we wait and see how the entire draft turns out for our beloved Falcons.