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Monday, April 21, 2003
Updated: April 22, 11:51 AM ET
Working the room
By Greg Garber

Back in the old days, when the Miami Dolphins trained at St. Thomas University, the team's draft board was stored in a tin shack near the practice field. Coincidentally, that was where a number of television interviews were recorded.

"You'd see the interview later and say, 'Gee, is that a piece of the board in the background?' " said Harvey Greene, Miami's senior vice president of media relations. "Today, it's a lot different."

Draft room stories
Check out Greg Garber's look at what goes on in NFL draft rooms:
  • Inside the draft room
  • Working the room
  • In or out? Who's in the room
  • Who's in charge?
  • The Best Draft Ever?
  • His Worst Nightmare
  • The War Room
  • Television crews that visit the team's training facility in Davie, Fla., marvel at the black curtain in the interview room -- it's the perfect background.

    "The room is actually our draft room," Greene said, laughing. "There are rollers in the ceiling and when the crews come in, we just pull the curtain all the way around the room. It covers the draft board completely."

    The NFL harbors some of the most superstitious people in all of sports, but that didn't stop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from changing their draft approach after winning Super Bowl XXXVII. When the old war room at the team's facility at One Buccaneer Place was turned into a players' lounge, the large team meeting room became the temporary draft headquarters.

    Most teams don't have windows in their draft rooms -- it keeps prying eyes from trying to decode the draft board -- but the Bucs' new room has several windows. In fact, it's in the very front of the facility across from a big mall.

    "You've seen our facility," said communications manager Jeff Kamis. "We've got a fence up there and security. We've got it covered."

    The New Orleans Saints' war room is relatively small and in the back of their complex at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie, La. It was once used for television interviews and a storehouse for junk. Now, it's a full-time facility, housing seven sets of telephones and the draft board.

    "Once the scouts start coming in, around January, it's under lock and key," said Greg Bensel, the Saints' director of public relations. "No more interviews. No more catering folks in there. It's been an amazing transformation."

    The Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV with a war room that doubled as a conference/interview room. Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' senior vice president of football operations, only has the room to himself for five weeks. TV interviews are pushed across the hall into the office of owner Art Modell.

    "When the new facility is finished," said Kevin Byrne, Baltimore's vice president of public relations, "Ozzie will have his own, year-round room with his own key."

    Greg Garber is an senior writer.