Thursday, April 19, 2012

NFL Draft Preview (Part 1 of 3)

Did you know? The NFL Draft is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting. That isn't very interesting.

It wouldn't do much good to hide the truth at this point, so I'll start things off with full disclosure: I don't like the NFL Draft very much. You could even say that I dislike the NFL Draft. The rest of this post will pretty much be me explaining why, as well as meditating on the contradiction of devoting three entire blog entries to the overblown spectacle that I've come to despise over the years. I've come up with three main bullet points here, in no particular order, to illustrate my distate. Enjoy.


Why are people so interested in the Scouting Combine, the week-long evaluation meat market that takes place 2 full months before the draft, yet somehow determines which round everyone will be drafted in?

Is it the thinly-veiled homoeroticism of old ugly men gawking at young attractive men in skin-tight spandex, before uncontrollably gushing over the astonishing feats that each can perform with his body? Is it the cruel irony of how these "experts" can diligently scrutinize four years of game film, yet still can't decide whether Robert Griffin III is good at football or not until they get a good look at his ass in spandex and see how many chin-ups he can do? As an aside, I find it annoying that football people still insist on referring to game footage as "tape" or "film". For those of you who have been living under Mel Kiper's hair for the last decade, the vast majority of video is captured digitally nowadays. But I digress, back to the combine...

As a DTLs fan, is it really worth getting excited about to hear that prospective O-lineman Matt Kalil had a solid showing in the 3 Cone Drill? So the guy ate a lot of ice cream, big deal. And this kind of crap gets top story news on SportsCenter! I apologize to all you combine enthusiasts out there, but I honestly can do without ESPN taking a week of my time to let me know who the Lions might choose two months from now, provided that none of the 22 teams in line ahead of them snatch the guy up first. Did someone say ESPN?

ESPN/Mel "Tall Hair" Kiper Jr.

Round-the-clock coverage on SportsCenter prior to the draft ranks third on my list of ESPN's most unforgivable football-related sins, behind cancelling "Playmakers" after one season (a vastly underrated fictional show starring Moe from Smart Guy) and introducing "First Person Football" mode to the ESPN Football video game. Am I seriously in the minority by actually wanting to watch sports highlights from the previous night, you know,  basketball 'Slam-jams' and what-not,  as I eat my Apple Cinnamon Cheerios each morning? The answer to my rhetorical question is YES, I am in the minority. Instead, what people seem to prefer is watching  non-athletes "Tall Hair" Kiper and Todd McShay on split screen, literally screaming at each other for four minutes straight, because Tall Hair more or less disagreed with McShay's assessment of Ryan Tannehill.

Without exaggeration, ESPN has now spent a solid three months devoting SportsCenter segments to a stupid DRAFT. Allow me to get all Allen Iverson for a few sentences here, because it's not like we're talking about some big championship game coming up...it's a DRAFT. It's not like somebody just scored a big touchdown in the closing seconds of a heated rivalry game...it's a DRAFT. We're not getting a behind the scenes look at what's happening in Iraq, or being prepared for the coming presidential election; a bunch of suits are telling us what they think might happen, in a football DRAFT.


On April 17th, 1999, I was mildly disappointed that had that my little league baseball practice conflicted with the first round of the NFL Draft, and I would have to miss out on seeing all the new guys that the Lions were going to add to the team. After all, practice was about two hours long, and I figure, since an NFL game lasts about three hours, it would probably take much less time for the commissioner to read off a bunch of names. That's fairly sound reasoning, no?

Needless to say, I was misinformed. I got home from fielding weak grounders that my coach/attorney shanked in my general direction, only to find that the Lions hadn't even made their first pick yet. "Are you kidding me?", I asked my stuffed animals. "What have they been doing all this time??" You see, unbeknownst to me, each team was given 15 minutes to waste before calling out the name of their new player. Only 8 picks had been made in the two hours that I had been away, and I was back just in time to pretend that I knew who Chris Claiborne was. At the conclusion of the two day ordeal, the DTLs had also picked up Sedrick Irvin (from Michigan State, Michael Irvin's smaller, weaker nephew or something) and Aaron Gibson (famous at Wisconsin for his inability to keep his weight below 390).

That 1999 Draft is a microcosm of what draft day has meant to me over the years: You get a few guys that you've never heard of, but "Tall Hair" Kiper says they're real good, a few guys that you've hated for four years because they went to MSU, but now you have to cheer for them, and then there's a few more guys with no chance to ever make the team anyway, so you just forget about them. And it's gotten worse since 1999. Instead of two full days of this garbage, now it's FOUR full days. I never thought I would see the day that a sports channel does a prime time broadcast, and four days of coverage, to what amounts to nothing more than a glorified board meeting. Board meetings suck, as does the NFL Draft, as does "Tall Hair" Kiper.

So then, why in tarnations am I dedicating a three part series on my site to something that I strongly dislike? Because, (a) apparently, that's what you idiots want, and (b) because it's not the idea of the Draft that I despise per se, so much as the unnecessarily prolonged spectacle that it's become. It is kind of interesting to see which new young guys could eventually become stars for your favorite team. However, I'm perfectly content just reading it in the paper on Monday morning, I don't need three months to prepare for it, and four days to witness it.

My next entry will be spent fantasizing about the great players that will all probably be gone before the 23rd pick.

In other news, I had a dream the other night in which the Lions won a close game in their season opener, and Jason Hanson gave me a signed game ball afterwards. Then, in a bizarre twist, he did a tomahawk dunk on a nearby basketball hoop. Simply put, the Best in the Business.

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