A tradition was born: How ESPN covered the NFL Draft 32 years ago

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft was Billy Sims (left). He was interviewed by ESPN's George Grande and Joe Thomas, former Baltimore Colts GM.

Article written in the Hartford Courant assesses ESPN's first Draft coverage in 1980.

Some 32 years ago, the world’s first pro sports draft telecast netted one review, this one: NFL Draft Telecast. A Neat Experiment.

The piece, by now retired Hartford Courant columnist Owen Canfield, describes a telecast with basics similar to today (135 player highlight packages in 1980 versus 250 today), minus the cabbies and Rusty Staub’s restaurant.

Now the “neat experiment” is delivered to 25 times the number of homes via 14 additional platforms. And that “two-story ESPN building packed with space-age computer machinery”? That machinery now has 17 buildings in Bristol to call home.

A year after ESPN's first NFL Draft - on this very date, April 27 - Building 2 was opened.

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