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Archive for Sunday, April 25, 2004

Commentary: Draft day for NFL vastly overrated

April 25, 2004

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— Forgive me Lord (and Trey Wingo), for I have sinned.

I have a confession to make:

I watched my daughter Tess' basketball game at the Y Saturday instead of watching the NFL draft.

I feel so ashamed. Where have my priorities and values gone? How could I have wasted time watching a little girl play a meaningless game when I could have spent it watching grown men getting picked to play a meaningless game?

"Daddy, it's my last game," Tess said. "You can't miss it."

But, honey, if I go to your game, I might miss Jaws and Merrill Hoge breaking down the Kenechi Udeze pick.

Of course, I'm kidding. There was really no decision to be made. It came down to this: Either do something worthwhile in your life or sit and watch the biggest sporting scam in television history.

Seriously, is there a more profound indictment of our country than 30 million mostly overweight men parked in front of the TV for hours on a sun-baked Saturday to watch Michael Irvin argue with Mel Kiper Jr. about whether the Texans goofed by picking Dunta Robinson?

Note to friends: If I ever become one of these 30 million men, buy me a 12-gauge so I can put the barrel in my mouth and pull the trigger with my toes.

Question for draftniks: Do you realize that nothing actually happens during the draft? There are no games played, no touchdowns scored. This is akin to a home-improvement network doing 17 hours of TV coverage of plumbers picking out PVC pipe at Ace Hardware.

The three most overrated entities in all of sports: (3) Notre Dame football, (2) Phil Rizzuto, (1) The NFL draft.

(We interrupt this column to bring you breaking news: The Tampa Bay Bucs are on the clock and face a huge dilemma: Do they draft for need or take the best thug available?)

A quarter-century ago, an ESPN exec approached then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and asked if the fledgling all-sports network could televise the draft.

Replied an incredulous Rozelle: "Why would you want to do that?"

Twenty-five years and 20 million wasted viewing hours later, I still say Rozelle was right. Sadly, I'm part of a shrinking minority.

How did this happen; how did a nonevent become such an event? The draft now gets higher ratings than every other sporting event on ESPN except for actual NFL games themselves. ESPN ditched two NBA playoff games Saturday to clear time for the draft, further proof that the NFL is the "Elvis of Sports" and everything else is Frankie Valli.

What other sport can make a Supreme Court justice drop everything to rule on Maurice Clarett?

(We again interrupt this column to bring you breaking news. Eli Manning is at the podium, holding up a Giants jersey and singing):

My daddy helps me when I'm sick,

My daddy helps me when I'm blue,

My daddy helps me when I'm sad,

Thank you, Daddy, I love you.

Manning, as you probably learned Saturday, is a can't-miss prospect -- as was every other first-round pick.

You don't even have to watch the draft to know what was said: Every player possesses a motor that's always running, plays well in space, has lots of upside, good value, excellent feet, loose hips and soft hands.

Then why does history tell us that half the players picked in the first round Saturday will fail?

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