Monday, April 21, 2003
Updated: April 22, 11:58 AM ET
Who's in the room?
By Greg Garber
When Tom Donahoe joined the Buffalo Bills two years ago, he wanted to make a grand gesture of solidarity. So he did the unthinkable: he opened up the draft room. Everyone who works for the Bills -- including security and stadium personnel -- is welcome.
"One of the things we've tried to promote here is a sense of team and a sense of unity," said Donahoe, the team president. "We feel that even though a lot people in the organization don't work directly in the draft, this is one chance to give everybody insight into what we do."
In the heat of the moment, do people make suggestions?
"Not to me," Donahoe laughed. "They make them to other people. Hey, we're always open to suggestions."
While the Falcons don't invite everybody into the war room, they do have more than 40 folks involved. There are 18 coaches, 17 people from football operations, three trainers and a doctor, two video experts, the owner, a financial person and a travel agent -- for making arrangements for Atlanta's newest employees.
"It's a little crowded," said Aaron Salkin, the Falcons' director of communications. "But you need all those people to get the job done."
The Indianapolis Colts, on the other hand, have four: president Bill Polian, head coach Tony Dungy, owner James Irsay -- the first three people on the team's masthead -- and director of football operations Dom Anile.
"The decisions have been made," Polian said. "You need to streamline things. I've worked that way (with a full room) three times in my life. It was bad all three times. It's distracting to me."
Bobby Beathard, a senior advisor for the Falcons, likes the scouts in the room.
"I've never been with a team that shut anybody out in the draft room," Beathard said. "I never understood that. They've been working all year
to tell them they can't be in the draft room, that really hurts them."
The pecking order in the draft room is very clear. Bill Parcells, the Dallas Cowboys' new coach, has always insisted on a seating chart. The Dolphins have one, too.
"It's like press row for an actual game," said Harvey Greene, the Dolphins' senior vice president of media relations. "You know exactly where you belong. And if your name isn't on the list, you don't get in the room."
Greg Garber is an ESPN.com senior writer.