We’re less than a month from the NFL Draft, which this year is staged at The Auditorium Theater in Chicago.
Staged is the right word – as the draft has become as overblown as Spiderman on Broadway. But in this year’s travelling production of “The Draft” some key actors have gone missing.
Three weeks ago FSU’s Jameis Winston said his grandmother can’t travel due to health concerns and she’s very important to him so he wouldn’t be coming to Chicago. But yesterday at his pro day he did tell CBS Sports “We really haven’t made that decision yet.” Winston added, “Ttere’s been a lot of pressure on people trying to get me to come and make the draft.”
Why? Pressure from who? The Bucs? The team that’s 99.9% likely to take him with the first overall pick? Within an hour of the selection they can have him whisked to Tampa by private jet for his introductory press conference.
Or is the heat to attend coming from Roger Goodell‘s stooges? Heaven forbid The Commish can’t hug it out with the No. 1 selection…
The networks want the biggest star in the draft to be on stage so they lean on the league and maybe the league leans on Jamies’ agent?
Marcus Mariota says he’s out too because “it’s important to him, personally and culturally” to be in Hawaii on the night of the draft. Mahalo but no mahalo to the nonsense of the potential Aaron Rodgers type green room embarrassment for The Heisman Winner.
And who can blame him? Where would you rather be? In Hawaii with friends and family or in Chicago with a camera in your face as you sweat out the first round.
And if you do go in the top 10, you walk on stage to a cascade of “boos” from drunken Bears fans and the obligatory loser with his face painted green who took the train from Penn Station in his Revis jersey to chant “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!”
Yeah, I’d stay on the beach too.
The NFL Draft has become a bloated three-day made-for-TV event with the first round on Thursday night. Rounds two and three on Friday night, and the rest Saturday afternoon.
And at times it can feel like the Bataan Death March of live television.
ESPN’s Chris Berman usually starts to fade by the 20th pick. Look for the trademark stuttering and stammering and flop sweat.
(“Uh errr uh and uh now it’s uh the Lions who uh look to replace a boy named Sue”…).
Old hair helmet Mel Kiper will make silly pronouncements, argue with John Gruden and Todd McShay.
Speaking of the “draft experts,” according to The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective you and I could come up with a better “big board.”
The brainiacs at Harvard studied Kiper & McShay’s predictions for 6 years and concluded: “On the whole, neither’s rankings are very accurate. If a player is listed in the Top 25 by either scout, that players will, on average, be in the top forty or sixty players from their draft class, but he is absolutely not guaranteed to be one of the very best players from his year.
“Furthermore, none of the differences between the average errors of Kiper and McShay are statistically significant: The differences between them are likely more due to luck than actual skill.
“In other words, you could take Kiper’s ‘Big Board’ or McShay’s Top 25 and ask any random person to put them in any random order, and on average, that person’s rankings will be about as accurate as predicting future NFL success than any of ESPN’s two experts.”
NFL Network has Mike Mayock – who for my money is the best evaluator of talent on TV. But to hear him you have to sit through smug Rich Eisen and Michael Irvin saying “you’ve got to have playmakers.” (That’s usually about all I can make out from The Hall of Famer without subtitles).
Then there’s those awkward on stage hugs…
Yes. it’s an emotional moment for these young men. The culmination of all the sweat and sacrifice to become a pro. But let’s see if some of these naïve draftees will want to give the commissioner a bear hug in two years after he’s docked them 50 grand for an “illegal hit.”
Remember future NFL players, this guy works for the owners? he could care less about you or your collectively bargained rights.
A hug? No way. A handshake will do nicely.