NFL’s ‘big football fan fest’ includes community improvements for Philly [photos]

The NFL draft doesn’t start until Thursday night, but NFL draft week is officially upon us.

On Tuesday, public officials and NFL representatives gathered at General George McCall school in Center City to kick off the first draft held in Philadelphia since 1960.

Former Eagles quarterback and co-chairman of the NFL draft committee Ron Jawkorski said he expects more than 250,000 people to attend the draft and surrounding events. Festivities start Thursday at noon on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

“We’re gonna have a big football fan fest,” said Jaworski.

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All fan events associated with the draft are free, he added.

The draft itself begins Thursday at 8 p.m. with the first round of selections. Rounds two and three will take place Friday, with rounds four through seven finishing up on Saturday. In all, more than 250 college players will be selected by the professional teams.

On Tuesday, officials also pitched the draft as a long-term boon for the community.

“When the NFL comes in for a big, national event like the draft, we want to make sure we leave an incredible legacy for the community well after we’ve come and gone,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s senior vice president for social responsibility.

Isaacson said the league will give $50,000 to the School District of Philadelphia as part of an effort to expand flag football. The NFL will also support rebuilding Smith Playground in the Girard Estates section of South Philadelphia and donate to Simon’s Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing sudden cardiac arrest in children.

“We were very adamant as the host committee, the mayor’s office, and everybody involved here in Philadelphia that it wasn’t gonna be kind of a carpetbagger approach,” said Jaworski. “And the NFL doesn’t operate that way, either.”

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