I believe it was Susan B. Anthony who said, “Home is where the NFL Draft is,” but it also could’ve been Meatloaf. Either way, the idiom held true last weekend, when coaches and general managers of the National Football League sat in their homes and … drafted players.
Everyone was sitting in their homes — the draftees, fans, broadcasters, Roger Goodell. Goodell was a real mood on the second night of the draft, when he settled into a leather armchair after a few hours of announcing picks and looked like he was having trouble keeping his eyes open. I have never had much in common with the commissioner, but I found myself nodding off as I mumbled, “Same, Rog, same,” at my TV.
pic.twitter.com/Lp6QhakSDN

— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 25, 2020

As someone who delights in looking inside other people’s homes, this draft was a real dream come true (I’ve been known to spend hours on Zillow despite the fact that I’m a Millennial who blew all her savings on avocado toast as opposed to a down payment). In fact — and this is a real Hail Mary, but I’m gonna shoot my shot — if any athletes, coaches, or general managers would like to give me a tour of their homes via Zoom or FaceTime, it would truly be my pleasure.
You might be thinking — how different can living rooms be? Well, when you’re an NFL executive or coach, a living room is often … much more (sometimes it’s a yacht — but we’ll get to that). Over the course of the weekend there were a few war rooms that stood out, for better or for worse.
And you know what’s tired? Grading the draft based on personnel decisions teams made.
You know what’s wired? Grading the war rooms.
Arizona Cardinals
I tweeted this when the picture of Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury at home popped up online, but Kingsbury looks like he’s trying to land the role of Laura Dern’s rebound in the next season of Big Little Lies. Everyone on Twitter made the Ryan Goslin in Crazy Stupid Love comparison. And you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think the family from Parasite is living in this man’s basement. I’d 100% go check to see if there are any secret doors in my garage if I were Kingsbury.
Wild that Klif Kingsbury is the guy Laura Dern rebounds with in Season 3 of Big Little Lies https://t.co/aolEHPzXIC
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 24, 2020

Look, this is a beautiful house. Apparently the young coach bought it for $4.4 million when he moved to Arizona. But I have some concerns, namely — is this a good fit for team culture? When I think of the Cardinals, I think of a Scottsdale dive bar with pictures of cowboys on the walls rather than a sleek modern swatch of brushed concrete. As a coach, you have to be careful about branding, and Kingsbury is out here looking like the main character from an early 2000s rom-com who doesn’t realize that he’s in love with his shy interior decorator until she takes off her glasses.
Final grade: C
Tennessee Titans
When the Titans beat the Ravens in the divisional round of the 2019-2020 playoffs, an old quote from coach Mike Vrabel began recirculating online. On a podcast with Titans player Taylor Lewan and former Titan Will Compton, Vrabel said he would cut off a very important body part — you know what he said he’d cut off, don’t make me tell you — if it meant Tennessee would win a Super Bowl. I was the only reporter granted a one-on-one with Vrabel after the game in Baltimore, and I knew that I had a duty to the public to ask him about it. I have never been so uncomfortable bringing up a subject to a head coach before, and Vrabel seemed to get a real kick out of it.
So I wasn’t surprised when Vrabel popped up on the television during the NFL draft with his son Carter dressed up as some version of Joe Exotic from Tiger King. Another guy behind Vrabel — his other son, maybe? — was dressed as Frozone. A third kid seemed to be on the toilet, or at least on a stool pretending to be on the toilet. Vrabel was Vrabeling, and I appreciate a healthy dose of silliness on a national broadcast.
What the hell’s going on in Mike Vrabel’s house right now? pic.twitter.com/QwEOqLVsYV
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) April 24, 2020

Final grade: A
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas owner Jerry Jones conducted his draft from his $250 million-dollar yacht, which looks a lot like the same one that sank in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Jones’ lair — sorry, yacht — was filled with white leather furniture and white wall hanging. I’m not sure there’s a bigger flex than that. We peasants must struggle to keep the cushions free of wine spills and Oreo crumbs in quarantine, but all Jerry Jones has to do is look at a stain before it starts to tremble and says, “No, you’re right, you’re right, I’ll see myself out.”
Jerry Jones’ draft room is on his $250 million super-yacht. Now that’s a super-flex. pic.twitter.com/ZJwgrUcehX
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) April 24, 2020

The problem is that head coach Mike McCarthy severely brought down the level of glamour by placing his camera much too close to his face in a standard-looking office.
Me answering a FaceTime call pic.twitter.com/NOL0AFxOse
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 24, 2020

Final grade: B
New England Patriots
This draft set-up was the physical manifestation of the Patriot Way. Head coach Bill Belichick has been social distancing since before it was cool. In fact, Belichick’s entire management style over the past 20 years could’ve been called social distancing. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a man more in his element than Belichick was last weekend — he was drafting players while wearing a sweatshirt with cutoff sleeves from his dining room on the Island of Nantucket. He didn’t even bother putting up monitors. The only thing more intimidating than Jerry Jones picking players from a floating palace is Belichick with nothing but a few laptops in front of him.
I would’ve given Belichick’s war room a high grade given how on-brand it was, but he gets the highest possible honor because his very good dog Nike showed up. Belichick gave the dog a treat, perhaps as a reward for not drafting a quarterback. As I’ve always said: It’s Belichick’s dogged intensity that makes him so good at what he does.
The dog’s name is Nike and yes I knew that without having to look it up https://t.co/YNoiz6yhxW
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 24, 2020

Final grade: A
Cincinnati Bengals
Head coach Zac Taylor could’ve done a little more to spruce up his set-up. He knew he had the number one pick and would be the first war room everybody saw, and yet … this is what he was working with:
Zac Taylor’s looks like he’s the manager of a car rental place pic.twitter.com/vUSbyF5g3g
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 24, 2020

Taylor looks like he’s being filmed by the security cam of a rental car place in a strip mall outside Cincinnati. It’s impressive that the backdrop wasn’t even positioned correctly, given the camera angle.
Final grade: D
Denver Broncos
I really like John Elway’s art.
The “Draft room” for #Broncos GM John Elway, #49ers GM John Lynch, #Giants GM Dave Gettleman and #Chargers GM Tom Telesco. pic.twitter.com/tCIRECTsuf
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) April 20, 2020

Those paintings of flowers are beautiful. I am, however, concerned for his tree — looks a little droopy. Could use some sunlight. Has he watered it? Trees need love too, John.
Final Grade: C (worried about the tree)
Chicago Bears
You know how when something really bad happens to a spy in a movie they get completely obsessed with revenge and paper their walls with clues?
Well, I think the double doink from 2018 did that to Matt Nagy. Can someone go check on him?
Matt Nagy’s room is exactly what mine looked like while I was writing the TB Times exposé pic.twitter.com/HSv7viWEfR
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) April 25, 2020

Final grade: No, seriously, someone please go check on Matt Nagy.
Minnesota Vikings
Mike Zimmer truly outdid himself when it comes to representing the state of Minnesota here. Not only does he have the heads of dead animals mounted to his walls, he has a cast-iron fireplace grate that says Zimmer Ridge. The only wrench in this whole situation is that Zimmer’s hunting lodge (or dude ranch? Whatever) is located in Northern Kentucky. Oh, and also that there is a decided lack of buffalo-checked flannel in this room.
The only thing more Minnesotan would be Mike Zimmer making his pick from a red house on the ice. pic.twitter.com/Rx5Umc7tR5
— Rob Zerwekh (@zerwekh) April 24, 2020

Final grade: B
Baltimore Ravens
John Harbaugh collects bird houses? Based on the bird pun alone, I think I’m a Ravens fan now.
Can we take a moment to talk about John Harbaugh’s bird house collection? pic.twitter.com/tdbIbDaBol
— Tim Reilly (@LifeOfTimReilly) April 25, 2020

Final grade: A
New York Giants
I’m deeply perplexed by GM Dave Gettleman’s set-up. A few days before the draft, a picture of his war room circulated. In it, a photograph of the city of Charlotte rests behind Gettleman’s head. It seemed like someone took a picture of Gettleman’s desk, realized the whole thing looked sad without any art, and found the photo of Charlotte to place there.
HOWEVER, come draft night, the image was gone, and Gettleman’s place was back to looking like a real estate agent forgot to find something to hang on the walls while trying to sell a house.
Dave Gettleman had one piece of wall art (a picture of the Charlotte skyline) and he decided to take it down in between the first pictures of his draft set-up and the broadcast pic.twitter.com/KEUFtDzXSc
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) April 24, 2020

Final grade: D
San Francisco 49ers
Any time a GM or a coach had their kids in their war room, I loved it. The fancy smoke screens and sleek production that accompany broadcasts have come crashing down in quarantine. While I hope a disaster like coronavirus never happens again, one side-effect has been the humanizing of many larger-than-life figures who usually seem so different from most fans.
Sure, the GMs and coaches’ houses were all much nicer than those most Americans live in. But their kids were still in the background, their candy jars still got depleted over the course of the night (Roger Goodell did a number on his M&Ms), and they still gave treats to their dogs. Nice to remember that despite the differences in our bank accounts and the number of times we get to blow leads in the Super Bowl, Kyle Shanahan is, at heart, just like us.
Kyle Shanahan has the best art. Note how the color of the vase is repeated in the painting. #NFLDraft2020 pic.twitter.com/hCD1KDhqPG
— Angela Dallman (@angeladallman) April 24, 2020

Final grade: A
Miami Dolphins
Brian Flores’ kids are the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I would’ve been fine if the entire broadcast had just focused on these kids and Belichick’s dog.
Brian Flores putting his kids on the phone to Tua after the pick is all kinds of cute. pic.twitter.com/iLgJuzGbBP
— ScottishPackersFan (@ScotlandPackers) April 24, 2020

Final grade: A

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