Leave it to the NFL to take the most overrated event in sports--the Draft--and making it even more overblown. Instead of the usual weekend of selections (and interminable analysis) we now get three days--starting with prime-time coverage of the first round tonight and the second round on Friday. How long before we have Draft Week--with one night dedicated to each round? Stay tuned to ESPN for live coverage tonight of the seventh round of the NFL Draft!! Who will be mister irrelevent? Tune in to Jay Leno tonight to find out!! Actually, I'm surprised that the NFL would want the Draft on a weeknight--since that is when most "draftniks" are out of their mothers' basements delivering Chinese food so they can afford to pay for Mel Kiper's "exclusive" internet content on ESPN.com.
If you are putting off going to your daughter's dance recital or your son's little league practice to watch Draft coverage tonight--here are a couple of things to look for:
The wonderful story of Myron Rolle. Rolle didn't play college football last year. He wasn't hurt or suspended for bad off-field behavior or failing his classes. Instead, Rolle was in England as a Rhodes Scholar. Myron knew he was taking a risk by giving up an almost assured first round draft pick by taking a year away from the game. But he hopes to someday become a neurosurgeon--serving in the Third World. I'm still baffled as to why he went to that bastion of higher education--Florida State University.
You'd think that any NFL team would want to have such a smart, talented and upstanding young man on their team--but you would be wrong. Coaches love guys who are "football smart"--able to read plays quickly and to figure out the proper angles to take to make plays--but they are leery of guys who are "book smart". They worry about how committed a guy with plans to be a surgeon would be to "playing a game" for a living. And will he worry about injuring his hands or arms on the field--ruining his chance to perform surgery. Guys like that also tend to walk away from the game in their prime when they realize they can do a lot more with their lives than just bat away footballs on Sundays.
Speaking of ingrained biases in the NFL, keep an eye on Toby Gerhart. Gerhart is a running back out of Stanford who led the nation in touchdowns last year and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He had a great combine, is fast, strong and durable--everything GM's look for in a feature half-back. Unfortunately for Gehart--he is also white. Yahoo sports created a ruckus this week after quoting Gerhart as saying a scout told him he would be a first round pick tonight--if he was black.
While much of the focus in recent years has been on the growing number of black quarterbacks in the NFL, you haven't heard much about the lack of "diversity" at other positions on the field. Can you name the last "great" white running back--who wasn't a bruising fullback? John Riggins? (Packers fans: don't even start with Travis Jervey) How about the last caucasian cornerback? Remember the debate over whether Jason Sehorn was "overrated" because he was the only white DB in the league? Maybe more GM's and coaches need to read the classic quotes of Shirley Povich writing about Jim Brown lighting up the all-white Redskins and racist owner George Preston Marshall back in the 1960's.
But enough talk about serious stuff--let's get ready for the over-analysis of the Packers need to find a pass rusher and a kickoff return man.