On Friday night, the Buffalo Bills will make their first selection in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft and when General Manager Brandon Beane calls in his choice, WBFO's own Peter Hall, co-host of Theater Talk, will be joining him via Zoom.
The first night of the draft began on Thursday evening without the Bills, who last month traded their first round pick (22nd overall) to the Minnesota Vikings for wide receiver Stefon Diggs
Hall won the prize after making a donation to the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County's COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The contest ran from April 6 to April 17 and in addition to a sizeable personal donation, Beane offered various personal prizes to inspire others, including a one-on-one Zoom, lunch for four, attendance to a Bills practice, game tickets, an autographed helmet, and an autographed Josh Allen jersey. The top prize was "a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be on the phone as Beane calls in Buffalo’s first draft pick."
"I had just filed my taxes and saw that I was getting a refund and thought that there are people who need that money right now, much more than I do, but how to get it to them? When I was working full-time, I donated through payroll deductions, but now that I'm semi-retired, this fund was exactly what I had in mind," Hall said.
Hall said he showed the list to his wife and they agreed that if he won anything, the jersey would make a nice gift for his nephew.
Then Hall got the calls, first from the United Way, then from the executive director of the Bills Foundation, then from Bills' communications director. On Friday morning, there was a "practice" Zoom with Beane himself.
Hall says Beane was just as friendly and conversational as everyone said he would be. Invited to ask questions, he wanted to know Beane's forecast for live stadium contests in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beane said that the NFL would be carefully watching what professional baseball does over the summer to see what might work for football in the fall. He went on to say that if social distancing rules allowed, perhaps fans could only sit in every third seat, for example, so that instead of 70,000+ fans in attendance, there might be only 20,000 at any particular game. That would also provide some employment for the people who work at the games.
How are the Bills going to be in touch with the players? As with everything else, there will be a lot of virtual meetings, with specialized coaches working with players and those players working out at home, depending on what equipment they had on hand.
Hall also wanted to know how important the NFL Scouting Combine (the week-long February showcase in Indianapolis where college players demonstrate their skills) was to Beane's draft decisions. Beane's answer was surprising in that he said that the physical statistics which are often mentioned on TV were the least important. The most important was the medical evaluation and then the interviews, where a player's character could be assessed.
Hall was also curious about how players, confined to their own homes with their families but viewed live on television, were able to produce the appropriate logoed hat (out of 32 possibilities) within seconds of their new team's announcement. Beane laughed and said that the NFL sends out the entire collection of team hats to each potential draftee long before the draft. And not only the hat, but an appropriate camera, and lights, with full instructions on how use the equipment, and how to present themselves on camera.
In addition to joining Beane tonight on Zoom, Hall was also invited to join John Murphy and Steve Tasker on their daily radio show on AM550 "One Bills Live."
The NFL Draft resumes at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bills have the 54th overall pick when the second round gets underway.