He Said: CHRIS HOFFMAN
Oh, the NFL Draft. The most over-hyped and commercialized piece of propaganda I’ve ever seen in the world of sports. Do the NFL and ESPN really think people want to tune in for an entire weekend of coverage to watch a bunch of ex-jocks and so-called “experts” scream at each other about the value of some dude from the tiniest school in Delaware who will never come close to making an NFL roster? Seriously, half the time ESPN’s analysts are on the air, they are yelling so loudly that their points get so convoluted and confusing that even the most savvy fans don’t know what’s going on.
I have no problem with the draft being televised, but to treat it like a second Christmas – as ESPN does by spending hours promoting it in the weeks leading up to the bore-fest – is simply ridiculous. College football is one of my favorite sports and far more entertaining than the NFL, yet my admiration for the game doesn’t translate into admiration for the majority of the players after they leave school. The NFL Draft is worthwhile to pay attention to for the first two rounds, if even that. Really, only the first 10 picks matter, so after that, who cares? It is nearly impossible to predict if a draftee will have an impact or even make the team, although the NFL’s version is outdone by MLB on the crapshoot scale.
The biggest problem is that the stupid thing is so freaking long. Roger Goodell made a wise choice by cutting the time teams can make picks in all seven rounds, but it is still excessive. There isn’t much the league can do, since taking more time off the clock would make the entire thing an even bigger nightmare for the teams, but the structure of the very thing makes for terrible television. Viewers can only take so much speculative banter. I’d rather watch “Project Runway” or something instead. At least it’d only be on for an hour.
Another problem is that most people don’t even know who any of the top guys are. Eleven of the 63 picks in the first two rounds are from small schools, making it difficult for most sports fans to recognize the stars of tomorrow. Unfortunately, it’s not like the NBA Draft, where even casual basketball fans have heard of the majority of the guys taken in the first round. That’s largely due to the insanity of March Madness, but recognition makes any draft more intriguing, even if you know next to nothing about a player other than his name.
Everyone has their own “Big Board” when it comes to the draft, but how many college football fans have any clue about how good a pro Kentwan Balmer is going to be? Most fans just listen to what the analysts say and take their word like it came from the Bible. You don’t know most of the athletes, and your favorite team picks about once every two hours, so why waste your day trying to figure out if Mel Kiper’s hair is real? Just read about it online and watch some playoff basketball if you need a sporting fix. We won’t even know for half a decade who made a killing and who ruined their franchise, so why pay attention now? Forget the draft, I’m going streaking.
He Said: ALEX PAVLOVIC
I like to think of myself as a pretty cool guy, but I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to sports, I do a few things that are, well … a bit nerdy. I have more than one fantasy baseball team, which I check semi-regularly. I have a bobblehead collection consisting of eight miniature Oakland Athletics, a Moises Alou replica – which, ironically, came with its broken arm sitting in the bottom of the box – and even a little bobbling Alex Ovechkin. I can tell you where almost every player in the NBA went to school, and for some freaky reason, I looked at an Orioles’ box score the other day and knew that the first name of this Quiroz guy who started at catcher was Guillermo.
I have no explanation for any of these things except for the simple fact that I, like many males, am an unabashed sports geek. However, as bad as some of my habits may be, I don’t think there’s another time in life where I feel sports-geekier than during that one special weekend in April, where life as we know it halts, and the NFL holds its annual draft. Yes, I’m that guy.
I’m the guy who reads Mel Kiper Jr.’s draft reports year round. I’m the guy who sees an inside linebacker rack up 18 tackles in an October Southeastern Conference game and prays that my beloved 49ers had someone take notice (by the way, they did … thank God for Patrick Willis). I’m the type of guy that mock drafts are written for. I’m not proud of any of these things, but I can’t help it. I just can’t get enough of the draft.
See, the thing about the draft is that no matter what, you have a chance to have some hope. The Niners were awful last year? Who cares! They just added a couple more pieces to that evolving defense. The Raiders were even worse, but who cares? They’re going to have Darren McFadden bringing his own version of Run-DMC to the Bay Area. Sports fans live and die with hope, and the draft gives every fan a chance to dream, if only for one weekend.
Plus the draft gives us all a chance to be an armchair G.M. for a day, as I did this past weekend when I silently – OK, maybe not so silently – cussed at my television as wide receiver after wide receiver went off the board, with none of them bound for a plane to San Francisco. I mean, seriously, let’s switch gears here for a second: Who exactly is Alex Smith supposed to throw to?
That might seem like a bit of a tangent, but in reality, it brings me to the ultimate reason to follow the draft. Nothing in sports correlates with success more than drafts, and that’s true for every sport, not just football. If you’re truly a fan of your team, you should care about all the major moves it makes, and in football, none of those moves are as important as the ones that are made every April. Plus, if none of these reasons are good enough, just tune in for the budding Mel Kiper-Todd McShay feud. As Kiper himself would say, this baby has extreme upside potential.