I’ve spent years making fun of Steelers/NFL fans over the notion that they may either smash their remotes or jump for joy because of the selection of a football player in the annual NFL Draft.
It was the thought of these fans in action that inspired the creation of an annual post-draft grades article, where I call a positive a Jump for Joy and a negative a Smashed Remote.
However, I didn't really think fans reacted in any sort of extreme way as a draft choice was being announced. Sure, fans may cheer or boo a selection if they’re attending the event live or watching it at a bar, but that’s crowd influence. It’s like when you go to a comedy club or the live taping of a sitcom and laugh at most of the jokes. Or, maybe, you’re at a pro wrestling event and scream things like, “You can’t overturn the match! He’s the senior official!”
It’s like you’re a part of the show when you attend something live, so you almost feel compelled to act in a certain way.
But I would never scream, “He’s the senior official!” while watching a wrestling match on TV (as far as you know).
Anyway, thanks to the smartphone and social media, the “live living room” reaction of sports fans during memorable moments is often a pleasurable wormhole to get lost in. Yes, whether you’re talking about Troy Polamalu’s famous pick-six against the Ravens at Heinz Field in the 2008 AFC title game (I could only find a “live stadium” reaction to that one) or Brett Favre’s infamous interception in the 2009 NFC Championship Game a year later (plenty of “live living room” reactions to that), it’s always interesting to watch sports fans express pleasure, sorrow, joy or anger during a dramatic moment in an important game.
But during a “dramatic” moment at the draft?
I will protect the innocent, but in the days after the much-anticipated event, several fans have posted social media videos of their reactions to the Steelers selecting running back Najee Harris with the 24th pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. If you didn’t know any better and just happened upon the videos in your wormhole journey, you may have assumed these were the reactions to a game-winning touchdown in the playoffs.
Here’s a YouTube video of some random fans anticipating and then reacting to the Steelers’ first-round selection. Did you watch it? In case you didn’t, before the pick was announced, there were sweaty palms, hands clutched in prayer form and even a promise to smash something if the team selected Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. After Harris officially became a Steeler, there was a “Bleep yeah!”, a “Let’s go!!!!” and even some alcohol consumed in celebration.
That’s all just gross and unseemly. You celebrate that way when your favorite team’s running back scores a hard-fought, short-yardage touchdown late in a playoff game. You don’t do that when your favorite team drafts a running back; for all you know, you could be cheering for the selection of a player who will fumble anytime he gets anywhere near the goal line.
The NFL season is a long one—it really has become a product we’re invested in 365 days a year—don’t wear yourself out over draft picks.
Save those “live living room” reactions for when they really matter.