When the NFL Draft finally made it into the TV listings
As with any other draft years removed, a look back at the 1980 NFL Draft is a trip through the memory bank.
And for draftniks of all ages, the 1980 draft, which kicked off 34 years ago Tuesday, is of particular historical importance, for it was the first draft televised, according to the league. ESPN, which had been on-air for less than a year, broadcast the event, as it does now.
The Lions began the 1980 draft by selecting Oklahoma running back Billy Sims, who made the Pro Bowl three times in his first four seasons before a knee injury in the midst of an outstanding 1984 season ended his career.
Two picks later, the first future Hall of Famer of the Class of 1980 was taken, with the Bengals selecting USC offensive tackle Anthony Munoz, an 11-time All-Pro. In the latter stages of the round, another Hall of Famer came off the board, as Syracuse wideout Art Monk landed with Washington at No. 18. Monk would go on to play for three Super Bowl-winning teams for Washington.
Then, in Round Two, the Dolphins selected one of the great centers of all-time, taking Alabama’s Dwight Stephenson 48 picks into the draft. Like Monk and Munoz, Stephenson is in Canton, and all three players made the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team.
It was, glancing now at the picks, a lot like other drafts — some standouts, some busts. But it was the first you could glance on TV, provided you had the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.