The NFL Draft Is History … We Are Doomed to Repeat It

The NFL Draft is over.  It has been the focus of attention for so many folks over the past month or so that its recession into history is important because it now allows lots of Americans to focus on other issues that have been pushed to the background by the Draft – – e.g. world hunger, the threat of nuclear war and who actually put the “ram” in the “ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong”.

About 40 years ago, Howard Cosell said that the NFL Draft was an over-hyped manufactured event receiving too much attention.  This year, the Draft basically shut down a large piece of Center City Philadelphia for 3 days; 70,000 folks showed up on a Thursday night to watch someone walk to a microphone and announce which college football player would be trying to make which pro football team come summertime.  Seriously.  Those folks could have been just as productive in terms of service to humankind if they had been searching out who put the “ram” in the “ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong”.  One report said that over the 3 days of the Draft, approximately 250,000 people – some repeat visitors to be sure – were part of this extravaganza.

I refuse to play the game of “grading the draft” for each team because you really will not know how well things went here for any team until the end of the 2019 season giving us 3 seasons to evaluate which of these players is any good.  I read one analysis that said the Cleveland Browns got themselves 4 very good players in this draft.  Here is what that means.  The Browns still have Joe Thomas on the roster; that gives them 5 very good players leaving them more than a dozen short of the number needed to be a playoff team.

Nonetheless, I do want to put a punctuation mark on this event if only to put it behind us for the next 6-9 months.  Sports fans accept the idea of an amateur draft; it is – nominally – a way to add competitive balance to pro leagues by allowing the worst teams from last year to pick ahead of the teams that did well last year.  That does not happen elsewhere and I suspect that lots of people would not accept it happening elsewhere.  Imagine this:

  • Of all the technology companies in the US, National Veeblefetzer did the worst last year; it’s stock was down 11% while the average for all tech companies was +13%.
  • Therefore, National Veeblefetzer gets to select which electronics engineer graduating from whatever school in the US will come to work for them two weeks after Commencement Exercises.

That is what the NFL Draft – and the drafts in all other sports – come down to and the courts have said it is OK for sports leagues to do that because the Draft is collectively bargained by the league and the players’ union.  Please, do not mention the fact that the collegiate players who are selected in the draft have never been members of that union that bargained to arrive at that collective bargaining agreement prior to their selection…

The NFL Draft encourages – and perhaps even rewards – behaviors that would not be acceptable in everyday life.  Coaches and GMs routinely lie about their draft plans so as not to “reveal their hand”.  They lie to prospective draftees; they lie to reporters; they purposely and purposefully create “Fake News” – – as if we need that sort of virus to spread.  Then, after about a month of that sort of anti-social behavior, 70,000 folks show up on the first night of the draft to validate everything those lying weasels have done for the past month or so.

Let me pose a question to anyone who sat and watched the Draft on TV at home for extended periods of time:

  • Did even one question or answer contained in the interviews with any of the draftees give you any insight or inspiration?

If so, I feel sorry for you.  I watched the draft in small doses – and truth be told, I spent much of my viewing time reading the crawl at the bottom of the screen as a way to catch up on “who went where” since the last time I had tuned in.  Nonetheless, I can give you a relatively accurate flavor of the interview with the recent draftee:

  • Q:  It has been a long journey for you from Beaglebreath, Nebraska to this point and now you are the first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills.  What is going through your mind right now?
  • A:  I am blessed to be here; God has a plan for me; He wants me to be in Buffalo.  I am ready to work hard and do whatever the coaches want me to do for the team.  My coaches and my grandmother have been my inspirations and I am going to play hard so that they will be proud of me.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a content-free exchange of words.  After you listen to one of those exchanges, you feel dumber for having had the experience.

Let me pose another question here:

  • Did you hear any of the “draft experts” on any of the networks covering this extravaganza say this about even one draftee?  “I don’t understand that pick at all; this guy can’t play dead in a John Wayne western movie.

Here is the deal.  Approximately 250 players were taken in this draft; About 50 will not make it out of training camp; perhaps another 75 will be on a practice squad and never see a moment of NFL action.  That means, the players cannot play – – but the “draft experts” cannot discern that fact.  So, what makes them such experts?

Oh, by the way, a corollary to that last question is this:

  • If a judge sentenced a convicted child sex offender to listen to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay “debate” the merits of potential draft picks for even 3 weeks, the sentence would be overturned on appeal on the basis that it would be cruel and unusual punishment.

Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald about another sports event that garners more TV coverage than is necessary:

“CBS devoted 18 hours of coverage to the Masters. Hours 9 through 12 were a segment called ‘history of the sand trap rake.’ ”

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



13 thoughts on “The NFL Draft Is History … We Are Doomed to Repeat It”

  1. OK, so I just finished reading your column which hit my inbox at 11:01 and found this to be a good read, as usual.

    Then, I scroll down and pull up my Wall Street Journal “Morning Tip-Off” email which arrived at 10:00 am and read the following lede:

    “Bills Finish the Draft, Then Fire General Manager Doug Whaley
    The team kept Whaley around to make franchise-altering, long-term decisions in free agency and the draft, then let him go.”

    Somehow, this just seems to fit the tenor of the curmudgeon’s column perfectly.

    1. Steve:

      Then again, this is the Buffalo Bills we are talking about here. The Bills – – along with the Jags and the Browns – – set the standard for incompetence in this area.

    1. Tenacious P:

      I saw video of Bears’ fans in a great state of anguish when the Mitchell Trubisky pick was announced. And of course, the Philly fans booed Roger Goodell and anything associated with the Dallas Cowboys because that is what they do…

  2. I think the crowd booed someone but for perfectly NFL reasons (I think it was a Cowboy on stage, therefore…). Maybe Mixon too.

    1. rugger9:

      I think that Eagles’ fans in Philly would boo Jerry Jones if he announced a cure for cancer.

      1. Could be an open thread topic for a writer’s block day: “Who would Philly Boo? (WWPB)”

        1. rugger9:

          The short answer is Philly will boo just about anyone who breathes…

  3. If any one of the 250 players selected fails, it is always the player’s fault. You never hear about the GM who did the drafting, the scouts who evaluated the player, the coach that insisted on having a particular player. We just reflexively blame the player.

    1. William B:

      Welcome aboard.

      In some cases, it is clearly the player’s fault. Think Ryan Leaf or Art Schlichter as outrageous examples. However, you are absolutely correct to point out the blame earned by GMs and scouts.

      1. I’d agree with the managerial focus, especially when one considers the attempts to fit square pegs into round holes when developing the roster. Belichick the Evil Elf does his homework and usually pulls it off, but many teams go the “best player available” route hoping to fit the franchise around them. The problem is that there are so many moving parts to any team (even beyond where the 11 guys are on each play) that too many prima donnas will never gel properly as a unit.

        1. rugger9:

          Your point about having too many “best available players” is spot on!

          Amazingly, even when you allow yourself to praise Bill Belichick, you feel the need to call him the Evil Elf. You may want to talk to someone about that… 🙂

          1. It depends upon the hoodie and the fact that while “Evil Gnome” fits the visual better, Elf is nicely alliterative. Grouchy Gnome might be good, but the continuing whiff of unsavory activities means “evil” fits better for the moniker.

Comments are closed.