April 29, 2006
My Annual Draft Day Disaster
BY: Kevin Rousseau
Mercifully, “National Talking Out Of Your Rear End Week” has come and gone for another year.
Of course, I’m talking about the time leading up to and including the annual NFL Draft.
It’s truly amazing what kind of phenomenon the draft has morphed into over the last ten years, isn’t it? It used to be the visual equivalent of Pete Rozelle reading name after name out of the phone book.
Now, when you are picking up a dozen “I’ve really screwed up” roses from your local florist a few days before the draft, you half-expect her to say “Sure, I like that linebacker from Wake Forest and his ability to rush the passer from a down lineman position. But I question whether he has the ability to drop back into coverage.”
Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t know the first thing about a lot of these guys that get drafted. We are laymen football fans that have a very basic knowledge of the techniques and skills that make a quality NFL player. But that doesn’t stop us from getting transfixed by 40-yard dash times and the distance of standing broad jumps. It’s very easy to get seduced by sub-4.40 40-yard dash times (see: Simmons, Tony & Johnson, Bethel). Personally, the last time this stuff really mattered to me was at the Centennial School’s Fifth Grade Field Day competition back in 1983.
All we see is the stock footage of two or three great plays over the course of a three or four year college career that ESPN packages for us. That’s it. But that doesn’t stop our florist, accountant or old college roommate from fawning all over some guy from North Carolina State like he is the second coming of Lawrence Taylor, now does it?
While I’m at it, wouldn’t it be refreshing if one year ESPN instead showed three or four clips of each player really screwing up? I’m talking about coughing up the ball at the 5-yard line in the SEC Championship or dropping a sure interception with nothing but daylight in front of him. No wonder every fan thinks his team had the best draft out of any team in the League. You only see the drafted player’s best plays. Next thing you know, your father is calling you up and saying “Looks like this Maloney (sic) kid is just the answer to spell Corey Dillon.”
So now that it took exactly 398 words to give you a disclaimer, please allow me to give you my two cents on the top choices made by the Patriots on Saturday. Up until 4 p.m., I didn’t know the difference between Laurence Maroney and Police Academy’s Officer Mahoney.
But now hear this: It’s not every day that a team with a real shot at getting to the Super Bowl has the chance to draft what they consider to be the second highest-rated running back and wide receiver in the course of an hour.
If the Patriots hit on the Maroney selection and he turns into a stud running back, they have ensured Tom Brady of having a running game for the next six seasons. If that indeed turns out to be the case, I like their chances of winning a lot of ball games.
Same thing with this Chad Jackson guy from Florida. Besides being an insurance policy against a Deion Branch departure via free agency after this season, his size could give the Patriots that elusive big receiver all of us so-called experts have been clamoring for the last few years. Again, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Jackson or some guy from Boise State. Only time will be able to judge that.
Or perhaps Mel Kiper, Jr. can. Just ask him.
I really admire the guy from an old-fashioned American entrepreneurial standpoint. Twenty years ago, he was probably the only dude in this country who actually tuned in to watch the 1980s NFL drafts on ESPN. And now, he’s a cult hero even despite that awful hairdo (“Do I get a free drop if I land a golf ball into it?”-- old Paul Reiser line).
And the best part is that it is perfectly acceptable if he is way off base year after year after year. That’s just the nutty nature of the draft, folks. “Wow, that was a real reach at number 16” has become cultural nomenclature thanks to Mel.
I thought I was going to be able to shake the draft this year and the waste of time that it has become in our household. On Saturday, I even went out to open up our camp on an island. But while tooling around, I suddenly realized that at my fingertips I had my Sirius radio and its NFL radio channel at my disposal.
What can I say. I’m a weak man. I tuned in.
While driving home from camp, I was sucked in once again to every word as San Diego, Miami and then Kansas City picked. Despite my overactive bladder kicking in somewhere along Route 17, I continued my asphalt assault back home. As I raced through the door and grabbed for my remote control syringe, I said to the wife “The Patriots are on the clock. I’ll unload the car in a minute.”
The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. I do, folks.
I just can’t stop myself from stuffing my face with Party Mix and doing my annual Paul Tagliabue “With the ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh 21st pick in the 2006 NFL draft, the New England Patriots select…” impression.
If you love me, you’ll do me a favor next year. Chip in and send me for a weeklong Buddhist monk retreat during the last week of April. It’s for my own good. That way, I can avoid hurting the ones I love and again feeling such a low-opinion of myself as I wipe away the orange Party Mix crumbs off my chin.
But I’m pretty sure that left to my own impulses, I’ll succumb once again to Mel, “reaches at 14,” the “best available player on the board” and completely waste a beautiful spring weekend.
Please. Help me. I can’t help myself.
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