The 2012 NFL Draft: The Dullest 72 Hours in Sports

Apr 12, 2012 by

 

Damn you April.  This isn’t entirely your fault, but damn you anyway. 

April shuttles in a range of emotions for me: excitement for a new baseball season and renewed hopes and dreams for an extended playoff run.  Spring training, now a memory as the media and fans begin overanalyzing players and teams who are slow to head out of the gates.  This is as consistent as the day is long, the overreaction to everything about your team whether negative or positive runs rampant in this particular spring month.  Either way, I welcome you back with open arms, baseball.

Then something wicked this way comes. My excitement with the young baseball season soon evaporates as the latter days of the month contribute an emotion of annoyance.  Typically, after the conclusion of the final Masters round, the main sports topic of the month of April is everywhere you turn, the dullest non-competitive event in sports: the NFL Draft. (Followed closely by the ESPY’s)  This is unfortunate.

We have already been inundated with months of draft coverage from ESPN and the NFL Network.  ESPN already fills their SportsCenter broadcast with an absurd amount of reporting about the April NFL Draft –   the playoffs had just begun and fucking Mel Kiper Jr. is already on version 5.0 of his mock draft. 

The NFL Network, after Commissioner Goodell hands over the Vince Lombardi trophy to the winning team’s owner, immediately set out to begin their intriguing telecast of the NFL combine-basically coverage of football player’s trying out. 

The combine coverage on the NFL Network is absolutely compelling television – if you’re a cantaloupe.  The enjoyment that football fans receive from watching college football players run sprints, try to leap really high, lift weights, and conduct asinine interviews is lost on me.  Who knew that Robert Griffen III runs super fast in a Michael Phelps like spandex bathing suit?  Did you know the dreadlocked running back from Alabama benches like a million pounds?  I guess people really watch this shit.  I don’t know what the fascination is really, but if watching tryouts are your thing than more power to you. 

Like Hallmark making up holidays to sell their idiotic over-priced cards; ESPN and the NFL are attempting to manipulate us into thinking the NFL Draft as spectacle, is more than it really is.  The executives and producers at both ESPN and the NFL Network market this as a “can’t miss” viewing experience for anyone who remotely cares about their NFL team. 

Let’s first put to bed any debate that NFL football is far and away the most popular sport in America today.  There is no argument here, and I’m sure there are numerous metrics and revenue numbers to prove this point.  I also understand the interest in what prospect your team is going to choose in the first few rounds of the draft.  What I can’t get my head around is why anyone would sit waste their time watching what has to be the dullest thing on television just outside of anything on the Bravo Network.

Doesn’t something like the NFL Draft, or really any draft, lend itself to reading rather than watching?  What does the viewer experience that is any different from reading a list of draftees by each team?  Watching someone get their name called is strictly informational; nothing else happens.  Even if a trade occurs during the draft, no action is present; just more names of people and teams being read from the stage.   The uncertainty of an outcome, competition, and the athleticism on display while watching a game is why we tune in; the draft holds none of this experience.

In my lifetime, I can honestly say I have never watched the draft from start to finish.  Sitting in front of the television, for god knows how many hours of coverage, is not my kind of fun.  I can’t recall the last time I even watched a pick.  When I actually do tune in, I seem to come in between picks as I watch the clock tick down in the bottom hand right corner of my screen.  I believe the last I checked; teams have an hour or so between first round picks.  Which comes across as amusing because they already know what their pick will be, but for dramatic purposes they must wait until the time elapses.  No other sporting event can drag on like this, well maybe when the Yankees and Red Sox play and see how far they can run up pitch counts. 

What are we really watching?  From merely a viewing perspective, I don’t understand why anyone would waste a second watching enormous offensive lineman, looking extremely uncomfortable squeezed into a suit, walking from a table to a stage.  Do we not trust that this event can occur between GM’s, owners and coaches at a convention center without television coverage?  Plus, what do fans really get out of watching Andrew Luck shake hands with Commissioner Goodell while holding up the number 0 Colts jersey. 

The only draft that makes any sense to me, at least from a viewing perspective, is the NBA draft.  The simple reason is because the college prospects wear the most ridiculous over-the-top suits.  This shit makes me laugh each time.  Take a peek at various past drafts and watch what these guys wore on draft day, you would think someone would say something to these guys. 

NBA Lottery Pick: “What do you guys think?”

Agent: “That’s awful.  And quite honestly a little embarrassing.”

NBA Lottery Pick: “Really?”

Agent: “Ah, yeah.  Seriously, take that off and change in to something that makes you look respectable. People will laugh at your ass ten years from now when watching this year’s draft on YouTube.  Ask Karl Malone or Jalen Rose about this very thing.”

The NBA draft also has the greatest potential for a pick to become a franchise changing player overnight.  Baseball, hockey, and football draftees are not ready to make considerable impacts the very next season; player development is a much longer process compared to basketball.

The worst part is the trickle down affect since college football and basketball have become professionalized.  Don’t blink, because your precious high school sports will closely follow, and in some respects, already has.  This can’t be good.  I want to throw up when I turn on ESPN’s coverage of signing day.  Some kid playing to the camera, with three hats representing his narrowed down colleges, as we wait patiently for his decision to be known.  Kill me know.

 

The high school senior that ESPN shamelessly televised last year during signing day was embarrassing television for anyone involved in the telecast.  The kid sat in his high school gymnasium and brought a goddamn bulldog implying his intent to sign with the University of Georgia.  He can go fuck himself.

 

I understand that the coverage of the draft will grow in popularity each and every year, since sports fans quest for information around the clock will never end, no matter what gaining this knowledge does for an individual.   However, I do have one small request aimed at the producers over at ESPN.  Can we put an end to the segment where Jon Gruden watches game film with a college quarterback?  The whole thing is uncomfortable as hell to watch as he kisses ass one moment; only to follow up with an overly critical remark about one play in a meaningless college football game. 

Not to ruin the draft for anyone, but if you happen to choose to live your life on the night of April 26th, rather than sitting on your couch with the fine folks over at ESPN trying to make something out of nothing interesting, here is Mel Kiper’s most recent mock draft of the first two rounds.   I believe this is version 8.0 or something.  His margin for error is slim, so I am sure it is fairly accurate.  Then again if not, who really cares?

Why would anyone attend the NFL Draft?  The draft is held at Radio City Music Hall and I can tell you for sure Sonic Youth will not be playing a show after the conclusion of the draft.  Plus you are in New York City for crissakes, go indulge in the culture or stand in line for tickets for SNL, which is right around the block.  Do anything but waste your money on tickets to the NFL Draft.  Who wants to be sitting next to some fat obnoxious New York Jets fan, whose weekend will be ruined once again when the Jets make another foolish pick?

So in late April, I will be doing something else while the rest of you watch this crap.  I have faith that my team, the New England Patriots, know what they are doing.  Plus, days before the draft, Mel will tell me exactly who the Pats will draft, saving me from the pain of actually watching it.  If Mel is off slightly with his predictions, that will be fine as well, since I can take the five minutes out of my day and just read on-line who gets chosen in each round.  Since no one knows any of the players chosen after the first 20 picks or so, I wouldn’t even bother reading about rounds 2 through 7 anyway. 

After the frivolous four NFL exhibition games conclude is when I make my NFL fan appearance.  Until then, NFL football and I take a much needed break from each other.  Shouldn’t we all do the same?

The draft is a special day for any athlete.  Their dreams of becoming a professional in the sport they dedicated their entire youth to are now a reality.   The draft should be a time when the athlete can share this moment with family and friends.  Does every moment regarding an elite athlete have to be witnessed by millions?  Can we take the spotlight off these kids for just one day?  How about no television networks with their camera crews and analysts on draft day?   Maybe football fans could spend a little time with their family and friends, instead of ignoring them so they can watch college athletes in designer suits take a measly stroll to a stage.  How about just a board room filled with owners, GM’s, and  coaches quietly making their selections followed by a phone call to the athlete.  

Family and friends gather for a backyard barbeque on a spring day.  A phone rings.  A college kid picks up the phone.  The voice on the end simply says, “Mr. Luck welcome to our organization.  We can’t be happier that you’ll be wearing a Colt jersey in the very near future.”   The college kid speaks to the voice on the other end and simply expresses his gratitude for the opportunity.   He hangs up as the attendees of the barbeque gather around to hear the good news.  The only cameras present come from his aunt, snapping away on her cell phone.  Mom sheds a tear, dad beams with pride as he sips his beer, family members throw out hugs and long time friends’ offer up congratulatory words.   The backyard barbeque continues on well into the night.

The world will continue on just fine the next day if we don’t witness this draft moment.  We will have plenty of opportunities to see them very soon.

At least baseball does this one thing right.  

 

 

 

 

 

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