A Brief History Lesson

Now that the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft is over – and more than half a dozen of the players taken there were not even mentioned in my pre-draft analysis – I want to give you a piece of history related to the NFL Draft. Previously, I wrote about the first NFL Draft ever where the Eagles had nine picks and never signed a single player that they drafted. They then had the first overall pick again in the second annual NFL draft and could not sign their first pick again. That was just pathetic; today’s story demonstrates how a team can just flat “get it wrong”.

By the time of the 1982 draft, the Tampa Bay Bucs had emerged to a degree from their team squalor of the late 70s and wanted to take Booker Reese (DE- Bethune Cookman) with their first round pick. Somehow – and there are multiple accounts as to how this came to pass – the wrong name made its way to Pete Rozelle who announced that the Bucs selected Sean Farrell (G- Penn State). The Bucs appealed to Rozelle that they did not intend to take Farrell but that somehow the wrong card got into Rozelle’s hands but Rozelle would not allow the appeal and the Bucs were “stuck” with Sean Farrell.

As the second round of the 82 draft rolled around and Booker Reese was still “on the board”, the Bucs could not contain themselves. They traded their first round pick in the 1983 draft to the Bears in order to move up to take Reese in the second round in 82. Therefore, they got the player they intended to draft in the first round (Reese) plus they got a player (Farrell) they must have had somewhere on their draft board because somehow his name would up in front of Pete Rozelle at the podium at the draft. Here is how all of this turned out after the fact:

    Booker Reese lasted two years with the Bucs. Statistically, his better year was 1983 where he intercepted 2 passes and recorded 1 sack. In 1984, the LA Rams gave the Bucs a 12th round pick for him. Reese had alcohol and cocaine problems and entered rehab in 1984. Evidently, that rehab was not fully successful because his career ended just prior to the 1985 season when he failed a drug test. He cost the Bucs a first round pick in 83 and he fetched them a 12th round pick in 84. Just to clarify, that is not good…

    Sean Farrell was in the NFL for 11 years; he appeared in 123 games (started 106 times) for 4 different teams and was an All-Pro in 1984. The Bucs got three draft picks from the Pats in exchange for Farrell in 1987.

It would appear as if the football-gods tried to do the Bucs a huge favor at the 1982 draft by divinely intervening to get the “wrong name” to the podium but that the Bucs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and took the far-lesser player anyway.

Now that you know that story, it sort of makes the bumbling by the Minnesota Vikings in 2003 – where the team could not get its pick in during the allotted time and the next two teams in line got to pick before the Vikings made their selection – look more like a harmless Keystone Kops movie short than abject nincompoopery.

Switching gears, it was about a month ago that I suggested you go and read Keith Olberman’s 5 March entry on his blog, Baseball Nerd. That entry described the superior logistics of Arizona for Spring Training as compared to Florida for Spring Training. I still recommend that you go to the blog and scroll down to read that entry if you have not already done so.

The reason I bring that up again is a report that the Florida State Legislature has recently passed a budget that includes $3.3M per year in “spring training complex upgrades and construction”. Specifically, the budget would help to pay for a training complex in Palm Beach Gardens that would be home to the Houston Astros and the Toronto Blue Jays. Currently the Astros camp is in Kissimmee (about 150 miles north of Palm Beach Gardens) and the Blue Jays camp is in Dunedin (about 200 miles northwest of Palm Beach Gardens).

If those teams were to make that move, it would be significant for them and also for the cities of Kissimmee and Dunedin. Kissimmee is part of the Greater Orlando area but it is not in the top-shelf part of that tourism center. The loss of 7 weeks of Spring Training visitors would have a negative effect on a city where 15.4% of the residents are currently living in poverty (Census data from 2000).

Dunedin is a small town near Clearwater and Tampa. It is not only the Spring training base for the Blue Jays but its stadium also houses the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League. Presumably, if the Toronto Blue Jays relocated their Spring Training site, they would also relocate their Florida State League affiliate.

This budget passed by the Florida State Legislature is interesting in that it seems to recognize that Florida may need to “invest” some taxpayer money as a way to keep Spring Training there as a viable “industry”. This is a political/economic development that may become the source of further debate regarding the use of tax dollars in ways that benefit local economies by means of subsidizing very rich sports franchise owners.

Here is a new culinary choice you will have should you venture out to O.Co Coliseum to see the Oakland A’s play baseball this year. At selected concession stands, you can order up a footlong hot dog served up on a bun and covered with macaroni and cheese with jalapeno peppers on top. That is probably not a good selection for anyone who is counting carbs and it also sounds like something you might want to have with a side of Rolaids…

Finally, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald showed his versatility with this “report” demonstrating his ability to write about sports and to cover the local police blotter:

“The home of Heat star Chris Bosh was burglarized of $340,000 in jewelry while he was off feted at a Moroccan-themed birthday party featuring two live camels. So the camels have an iron-clad alibi.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Jim  On April 26, 2013 at 11:58 am


    Da BEARCE 1983 draft, including free agents, was one of their best ever. Many of the players taken that year were all-pro — as well as one hall of famer (Richard Dent). The two first round picks were Jimbo Covert and Willie Gault. I don’t know if the Bucs were responsible for Covert or Gault, but am grateful nonetheless.

    Miss the 1985 BEARCE defense and the “46” in particular.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On April 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm


      I do not know which first round pick for the Bears in 83 came from the Bucs. Both were superior players to Booker Reese. Also, Richard Dent was taken in the 8th round that year (203rd player taken).

      The 83 draft produced 6 Hall of Fame players. Eric Dickerson, John Elway, Darrell Green, Jim Kelly, Dan Marion and Bruce Matthews. Not too shabby…

  • David Egbert  On April 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    If you want the definitive story on Booker Reese, you should google the July,2003 St Petersburg Times column by Gary Shelton entitled “Opportunity Lost”. Talk about a tragic comedy!

  • Doug  On April 29, 2013 at 6:55 am

    The Booker Reese story is heartbreaking, but read the Javaris Crittenton story with the same (maybe worse) outcome. It is not as rare as it should be.

    When I first retired my wife & I sailed across the Gulf of Mexico to Clearwater, FL. We docked there and twice pedaled our folding bikes north on the Pinellas Trail to Dunedin and watched the Jays play. There was an Osprey nest in one of the light towers and the parents were flying to and from delivering dinner to young chicks. I think the place was about 3/4 full. It was/is a nice place to watch a game. BTW, they had a bike rack out front!

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On April 29, 2013 at 10:20 am


      1. The Jarvaris Crittenton saga is indeed another sad one.

      2. I too have seen the Jays play in Dunedin. It is nice small park and Dunedin is small town that clearly uses the presence of baseball teams as a focus for community activities.

      3. You and your wife clearly figured out the secret to happy times in retirement.

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