NFL draft attendees down for 3rd straight year. J.J. McCarthy among those who didn't go to Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — There's no place Drake Maye would rather be.

When the NFL invited the former North Carolina quarterback to attend the draft in Detroit, he had a quick answer.

Yes.

“I think you always dream about coming here and coming to walk across the stage and be with the commissioner," Maye said. "It’s something I couldn’t turn down. It was a no-brainer for me.”

Not everyone feels the same way.

Only 13 players chose to celebrate their big night in the Motor City, representing a decline in NFL draft attendees for the third straight year.

Former Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy was among the first-round prospects who chose to stay away Thursday night.

When the draft was in Kansas City last year, 17 players were there. Two years ago in Las Vegas, there were 22 prospects present to hear their name called.

With COVID-19 protocols in place three yeas ago in Cleveland, 12 college stars attended the draft during the pandemic.

The league offers each invited player two first-class and eight coach airline tickets along with transportation to and from a hotel, where five rooms are provided. Players are not given an appearance fee by the league.

In the green room, which is behind the stage in Detroit, players can be joined by up to nine guests on white leather chairs and couches while additional tickets in the theater are also available upon request.

McCarthy simply wanted to celebrate with even more people.

He planned to be surrounded by 100 people — including family members, friends from Illinois, teammates and staffers from the football program — near the airport, which is about halfway between Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the site of the draft.

“I didn’t want to go to Detroit because I know it took a village to get me here, and I want to celebrate with them,” McCarthy told WXYZ-TV.

Even though McCarthy wasn't going to walk the red carpet, he planned to wear a custom, charcoal gray Alo Yoga suit.

“I don’t like being the center of attention," he said, "but, for one night, I’ll do it.”

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL