Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You Gotta Be A Football Hero

So what did you watch on TV Sunday night and last night now that the most interminable exercise in "sports broadcasting" a/k/a the NFL Draft has finally been mothballed for another year? Do not misunderstand: I urinate standing up. I drink beer. I play softball. I love football. I eat foods that are bad for me. I secretly root for the Missus to express interest in seeing any movie that features Angelina Jolie. I spit. I swear with impunity. I steadfastly refuse to ever ask for directions while driving regardless of how lost I may be. Hell, once upon a time I actually earned an honest living working for my brother Kelly's construction company (although the fact that my career in the building trade preceded the advent of YouTube is probably a good thing for all concerned). Much like George Costanza, I too have an unblemished record of staunch heterosexuality.

Yet for the life of me I cannot figure out the appeal of "The Draft" as televised programming. And this year, representing one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the NFL spread the excitement out over three days. Consider for a moment that spacing this event to span 72 hours meant that a certain percentage of the "draftees" spent more time awaiting word on where they shall play for pay next year than they spent in class the past several years. At least next year they get paid in traceable funds. Progress is indeed measured in baby steps.

I know not what my favorite thing is about the NFL Draft. It might be the guys who have carved out a niche for themselves as self-proclaimed expert prognosticators of the anticipated success or lack thereof of every kid selected - from the #1 pick to Mr. Irrelevant. It might be the fact that teams decide the kids that they are going to draft and pay lots of money to play football for them by testing how fast they run the 40-yard dash, how many times in a row they lift a certain amount of weight and various and sundry other exercises. To my admittedly untrained eye it seems as logical a system as determining which surgeon should perform your quadruple bypass by his shoe size or her middle name.

I mean not to harsh the collective mellow of the pigskin nation but one would think that those who run these NFL teams would be better served figuring out which kid to select to play football for their professional team by evaluating the manner in which the kids played football for their respective college teams. I have watched a lot of football in my life - even played a bit of it in the 7th and 8th grade - and I have yet to see anyone have to negotiate his way through a low-level rope obstacle course while wearing a t-shirt and shorts to score a touchdown.

I understand that professional sports is big business. The various franchises that dot the landscape in every league - including the NFL - need a mechanism for hiring new personnel. And I understand that the Draft works better for the teams as the aforementioned mechanism than wading through countless letters from a prospective player's Mom extolling the virtues of her particular knothead. The necessity of it I get. It is the "spectator sport" element of it that eludes me. It is as if the football-loving fans who sit glued to their televisions or - and this is really a notion I find equal parts fascinating and terrifying - get dressed up in their favorite team's "uni" and actually attend the Draft - have never paid any heed to the maxim about the difference between enjoying sausage and needing to see how it is made. Which is surprising given the number of bratwursts, Italian sausages and kielbasas are consumed annually during NFL games.

Here is to hoping that sausage eating gets added as a test at next year's Combine. If it is, then my money is on this guy to go #1 in 2011. After all, even he would prefer to spend his evenings in the company of a beautiful girl instead of a wiener on a bun.


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