The NFL Draft is coming to Philly with record-sized fan experience

The NFL Draft is coming to Philly with record-sized fan experience

It was one of the worst kept secrets in town, but today the NFL made it official: the 2017 NFL Draft will take place in Philadelphia.

The event will take place from April 27-29 in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Perhaps most interesting to fans is the transformation of the Ben Franklin Parkway into a unique fan experience, dubbed the "NFL DRAFT EXPERIENCE PRESENTED BY DANNON OIKOS TRIPLE ZERO." It was all-caps per the official press release, so it's probably a pretty serious experience.

The league made the official announcement this afternoon at an event at the Art Museum that featured NFL Senior Vice President of Events Peter O'Reilly, Mayor Jim Kenney, and Eagle great Ron Jaworski.

"We are thrilled to bring our largest fan festival ever, spanning the size of twenty-five football fields, to Philadelphia," said O’Reilly. "Thanks to our partnership with the City of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, we are bringing more interactive attractions to the NFL Draft Experience and creating life-long memories that fans will never forget.”

"We stand ready to welcome visitors and residents to this one-of-a-kind experience," said Mayor Kenney. "Philadelphia received international praise as an excellent host for both the Pope and the Democratic National Convention, and we are very excited to add the NFL to our guest list."

They said they expect aproximately 200,000 fans through to enjoy the experience. The renderings of what the experience will look like are pretty interesting.

Here's a detailed list of what it entails per the NFL release:

NFL Draft Experience hours of operation are: Thursday, April 27: Noon to 11 PM; Friday, April 28: Noon to 11 PM; and Saturday, April 29: 10 AM to 6 PM.

Among the NFL Draft Experience fan events:

·       Combine Corner – From racing against NFL players to running routes, fans can test their football and athletic skills at Combine Corner, which includes the Vertical Jump and 40-Yard Dash.

·       NFL Virtual Reality – Experience NFL games using virtual reality technology.

·       The Vince Lombardi Trophy – Fans will have the opportunity to take their photo with the Super Bowl trophy.

·       AFC & NFC Locker Rooms – Visit a replica NFL locker room as it appears on gameday. Experience the sights of an NFL pregame with sleek translucent LCDs.

·       NFL Museum (Pro Football Hall of Fame display area) – This exhibit features historical Eagles memorabilia, Super Bowl rings and Conference Championship trophies. Fans can get a digitalized Pro Football Hall of Fame bronze bust in their likeness.

·       College Football Corner – Fans can view College Football Hall of Fame memorabilia from former first round Draft picks and Eagles legends, and cheer on Draft prospects from their favorite college team. Life size player mannequins offer unique photo opportunities.

·       NFL Draft Experience Tailgate – Enjoy selections from some of Philadelphia’s best restaurants in a “taste of the town” tailgate.

·       NFL Network Set – Watch NFL Network analysts break down the NFL Draft.

·       ESPN Set – Check out SportsCenter LIVE from NFL Draft Experience.

·       NFL Shop at Draft – Stop by for the largest assortment of NFL Draft merchandise, including customizable Nike Jerseys and the official 2017 NFL Draft Cap by New Era and other exclusive Draft caps.

·       NFL Draft Set – Visit the official NFL Draft set from Thursday to Saturday and see the view from behind the podium.

Catching up on some big Eagles stories from Week 1 of OTAs

Catching up on some big Eagles stories from Week 1 of OTAs

It was great to be back at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday and take in an Eagles practice, even if it was non-contact. There’s a lot of buzz around the team right now, and minimal time to cover everything, so let’s dive into some of the storylines that slipped through the cracks during the first week of OTAs.

The thought that the Eagles are secretly fuming over Carson Wentz seeing a private quarterback guru seems ridiculous. It’s not uncommon for NFL players -- even quarterbacks -- to seek council during the offseason. Tom Brady did it, and I don’t recall any drama ever unfolding with the Patriots as a result of that. Perhaps some mild concern has been expressed behind closed doors, as Wentz’s mechanics are a constant work in progress, and Eagles coaches surely prefer he learn the methods they’re teaching. Then again, I highly doubt somebody earned the title of “quarterback guru” if they’re not passing along standard NFL techniques. It was an even bigger reach to suggest Doug Pederson’s displeasure over this development was on display during his press conference on Tuesday.

I’m not one to place a whole lot of stock into OTAs, but seeing rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas on the field with the first-team defense in nickel situations is a promising sign. He didn’t look out of place, either. At 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, Douglas matched up well with Alshon Jeffery. I could see his size being an asset against NFC East rivals like Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Terrelle Pryor -- bigger receivers the Eagles will face two times each this season. While performance in OTAs typically means squat, it was about this time last year when Jalen Mills began ascending the depth chart, and he wound up playing quite a bit. It’s early, but given the situation at cornerback, not at all far-fetched to anticipate a similar role coming for Douglas.

While I agree with the premise Nelson Agholor could improve and go on to have a respectable NFL career, Eagles teammate Brandon Graham isn’t really the most relatable example. It’s time for the seemingly annual reminder that Graham’s progression was derailed by a major knee injury as a rookie. He essentially missed the following season, and was buried on the depth chart upon returning. A year later, the defense switched to a 3-4, which was an adjustment as well. Yet, time and time again, Graham would perform at a high level whenever he got into games, finally earning his starting job back in 2015. Agholor has been a starter the past two seasons, and aside from a high ankle sprain his rookie year, he’s been relatively healthy. What’s the excuse here? Agholor may be a late bloomer, but Graham’s experience breaking into the league was vastly different.

The revelation that Vinny Curry was affected by a knee injury last season can be taken one of two ways. Some may see it as an excuse for his modest performance after signing a massive contract extension a year ago, which currently looks like an expensive mistake. I prefer to view the injury news as another reason to give Curry a slight pass. We’ve all seen what an explosive pass rusher he could be, racking up 9.0 sacks in 2014 while playing only one-third of the Eagles’ defensive snaps. If he was hampered by the knee -- Curry admitted wearing a brace for much of the season -- that could certainly help explain why he often seemed invisible. Even if he simply wasn’t very good, Curry has another opportunity to prove himself in 2017. Might as well take the optimistic outlook.

Mike Schmidt shows off new sunscreen dispensers at Citizens Bank Park

Mike Schmidt shows off new sunscreen dispensers at Citizens Bank Park

Phillies legend Mike Schmidt is teaming up with Mayor Kenney, the city of Philadelphia, Independence Blue Cross, and the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation to help protect you from the sun's harmful rays.

As part of the Sun Smart America initiative, the Phillies will place 12 sunscreen dispensers around Citizens Bank Park in addition to 6 dispensers located elsewhere around the city. 

This Sunday, May 28th, is also Melanoma Awareness Day at the ballpark when the Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds at 1:35. 

Schmidt will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and try to promote the importance of protecting one's skin from the sun. He knows from a trying personal experience.

"The sun almost took my life," Schmidt told the Palm Beach Post after his battle with skin cancer. He spent months going through heavy radiation and chemotherapy and is currently cancer free.

The sunscreen dispensers at the ballpark can be found at all entry gates as well as on the Rooftop, Pavillion, and Terrace levels beginning on Sunday.