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Ceremonial football is making its way from Detroit to Green Bay ahead of the 2025 NFL Draft

Ceremonial football is making its way from Detroit to Green Bay ahead of the 2025 NFL Draft


On a cold spring day, a football traveled from Muskegon, Michigan across the choppy waters of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee.

When it arrived, the next part of its journey was completed by bicycle, by several people 100 miles north to the land of green and gold.

But this isn't just any football, it's an emblem of the NFL Draft's transition from its last home in Detroit to its next home in Green Bay.

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Gov. Tony Evers was in Milwaukee Tuesday to receive the ceremonial ball from the ferry captain.

A transfer, if you will.

“I've said it before and I'm obviously a little biased, but I can't think of a better place to host the NFL Draft than the great state of Wisconsin and Green Bay,” Evers said during a welcome ceremony.

Cyclists carry a ceremonial football for the 2025 NFL Draft from Milwaukee to Green Bay on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

The 2025 NFL Draft will be held in April 2025 in and around Lambeau Field and the Titletown District. The event is expected to have an estimated $94 million in economic impact for the state.

Tuesday marked the official “transfer” of the draft to Wisconsin. It was also a nod to the Green Bay Packers' tradition of having players practice on bikes before the start of the season.

“We wanted to celebrate the draft transition from Michigan to Wisconsin and obviously bringing a football makes sense, so we wanted to kick the draft from Milwaukee to Green Bay, and bring the football to Green Bay,” said Chris Cohorst, who works for the Packers.

About 20 cyclists from the Packers organization, Travel Wisconsin, Wisconsin Bike Fed and residents of the Green Bay area made the seven-hour trip. The riders stopped at prominent locations in southeastern Wisconsin, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World, the Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center in Manitowoc and Ray Nitschke Field.

Once in Green Bay with the football, an official “Countdown Clock” would be unveiled in the Lambeau Field Atrium.

A woman holds the official 'Handoff' football in a bag during a drive from Milwaukee to Green Bay on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. Evan Casey/WPR

Brother Cohorst and the other riders, many of whom chanted “Go Pack Go,” didn't seem to mind the cold weather as they rode through Milwaukee.

“It's an exciting time for Green Bay, it's an exciting time for Wisconsin,” Cohorst said. “With the tour coming here, hundreds of thousands of people will be coming to visit Green Bay, so it's a cool way to start it off.”

The 2024 NFL Draft broke the attendance record, as more than 775,000 fans packed downtown Detroit for the three-day event in April. It's unclear if the 2025 NFL Draft will see these numbers, but the city and state are preparing for hundreds of thousands of football fans to come to Titletown USA.

“I'm sure Packers fans in Wisconsin will look at this as a test of sorts to see if we can expand the draft further and raise the bar,” said Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president.

Packers fans wear players' jerseys as they sit in Lambeau Field.
Fans watch the Green Bay Packers play the New Orleans Saints in a preseason game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. on Friday, August 19, 2022. Angela Major/WPR

After being held in New York City for 50 years, the draft has made the rounds in recent years and has been held in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Nashville and Arlington. Now Green Bay, the smallest market in professional sports, will get its chance.

Packers president Mark Murphy has said the draft “will have more than six times the impact of any of our individual games.” During the welcome ceremony Tuesday, he said this is an opportunity for the city and state to be in the global spotlight.

“It's going to be a week-long commercial for Wisconsin,” Murphy said. “It's really going to open a lot of eyes across the country and around the world.”

According to the Associated Press, more than 50 million viewers watched the 2024 draft on TV. Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Anne Sayers said she believes the state is ready for an event of this magnitude.

“Wisconsin has shown that we can host big, big events,” Sayers said. “We had the Ryder Cup, we had the US Senior Open, we're about to host the RNC, and the Draft is the next step in that evolution and the entire state will participate.”




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