Draft in Philly a “Home Game” for NFL Films

Behind the Scenes, Featured, Films Facts, Philadelphia Eagles

By Colin Williams

Since its earliest days, NFL Films has gone on location to document the NFL Draft. But this year the trip will be shorter than ever, just a short drive from company headquarters in Mount Laurel, New Jersey to Philadelphia.  That’s the city where Ed Sabol founded NFL Films, and where this week the NFL Draft will be held.

NFL Films Plaque

The historical marker at the former home of NFL Films on North 13th Street in Philadelphia, PA.

The last time the NFL held the draft in Philadelphia was the first time it held a draft at all.  It happened on February 8th, 1936, and began when the Philadelphia Eagles selected Jay Berwanger.  He was the first NFL Draft pick in history after being named the first ever winner of the Heisman Trophy.  Yet Berwanger declined the opportunity to play in the NFL, instead pursuing what he thought would be a more lucrative career in a rubber factory.

NFL Films

The present day home of NFL Films – just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, in Mt. Laurel, NJ.

Eighty years later and just down Market Street from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where the Eagles selected Berwanger, the 2017 Draft will be held along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  As it’s always been, NFL Films will be there to find new stories to add to the Draft history that begins with Berwanger.  This year, NFL Films crews for the show Hey, Rookie will be back at the Draft documenting the life-changing day for the league’s next generation of starts.  In addition, for the first time ever NFL Films will be creating a virtual reality project at the Draft, an effort that will capture this eight decade old event like it never has been before.  Both productions will make sure to take advantage of the proximity between NFL Films headquarters and the draft. “Knowing the city helps,” says Shannon Furman, producer of Hey, Rookie. “We generally incorporate League events, but being able to show off Philadelphia is certainly a plus this year.”

Regardless of who is selected with the first overall pick on April 27th, it’s unlikely they will forego the opportunity to play in the NFL like Jay Berwanger did.  But like all the draft picks of 1936, those in 2017 will have their career paths run through Philadelphia, where NFL Films will be on hand to document history happening right in its own backyard.

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