In case you missed this story, the former NFLPA is reportedly telling college prospects not to attend the NFL Draft next month. ESPN's NFC West blogger, Mike Sando, called the move "petty," and then recalled last year when Sam Bradford was drafted:
So much had gone into the moment: Bradford's development as a player, his successful recovery from shoulder surgery, the Rams' 1-15 record the previous season, months of mock drafts and speculation.What a misguided shame it will be if prevailing pettiness between the NFL and its locked-out players robs fans of this moment, too. It could happen.
A prime-time television audience had watched Bradford speaking on a phone to someone -- the Rams, presumably, but no one knew for sure -- while the team used nearly all of its allotted 10 minutes before making its selection.
Would the Rams follow through with the choice as expected, or might Bradford become the next Aaron Rodgers, standing by helplessly while the sporting world watched?
Bradford rose to his feet and smiled when the announcement finally came. There were handshakes and hugs. Bradford beamed before fitting a Rams hat onto his head. He carried a Rams jersey out to the stage, where Goodell greeted him. They posed for the cameras while fans took in a scene that has become a rite of spring in the NFL.
My official response: "Meh."
Don't get me wrong. I certainly agree the move is petty, and it makes the players union (or whatever it's called now) look silly, not to mention it's undoubtedly an awesome moment for the college kids themselves. But personally (and perhaps selfishly), I won't miss it in the slightest. Obviously, Sando's company (ESPN) will be directly affected negatively by this announcement as they've covered it for as long as I can remember, so the reaction is natural. But really, what are we missing?
Well, Sando kind of summarized it above - The commissioner calls the player's name, the player hugs his family, everyone passes around tissues, the player walks up, puts on a baseball hat of his new team, grabs his jersey with the number 1 on it, flashbulbs pop, the player shakes the commissioner's hand, and smiles for the cameras. Yeah, I've seen it. Every year. For like 25 years. (Yaaaaaaawn). Every once in a while, something interesting might happen. Obviously we're close to the infamous "Dirty 30" idiots that booed "not Ricky Williams." Chargers and Giants fans watched as Eli Manning babied his way out of San Diego and into New Jersey. The image of Aaron Rodgers sitting in the green room for hours, as Sando noted above, will forever be referenced as Rodgers continues his success in the bigs. But mostly, in my opinion it's a bore. I mean, if they wore Halloween costumes like the NBA guys, I'd be more into it, but that's not the case.
The crazy thing about ESPN's "dramatic coverage" of the draft is that they manage to completely botch it. How many times has Chris Berman said "Hey, what do we have here? (Fill in the player) is on the phone. Could we be hearing his name next?" Cut to the player crying tears of joy on the phone saying "Yes coach. Thank you," followed by him telling his family he was just drafted. Are you freaking serious ESPN?!?!? The whole dramatic aspect is the reveal of hearing the name called, and you just ruined the surprise!!!!
I miss the old NFL draft, which was more football analysis, much less drama. Consider that back when the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb in 1999, the last player left in the green room was Cade McNown. McNown was drafted 12th overall. At the 12th overall pick this year, my guess is that there'd still be at least 10 players hanging out waiting to have their names called. The drama portion of the draft was over in less than 2 hours in 1999, at which point they actually talked about... you know... football. Nowadays the drama and the human interest aspect wholly consumes the entire first round, and a good portion of the second. I recall they didn't even play highlights for some guys that were drafted high last year. That's a disgrace.
I also miss the old days when the first 3 rounds were Saturday, the last 4 rounds were Sunday afternoon. It was my favorite weekend of the year, a time to do literally nothing more than call for pizza delivery, and sit on my sofa for 7 or 8 straight hours 2 consecutive days, while my loved ones worried (justifiably so) that I might be a total loser. It was sweet, glorious sloth. But that has all changed. The NFL Draft is in primetime now, with the first round Thursday night, the second and third rounds Friday night, and rounds 4-7 on Saturday. The draft has become the sports version of Kauai - the once super-awesome lesser-traveled vacation spot that is slightly less cool because of its increased popularity. You'll almost certainly see the national writers up in arms over the NFLPA's boycott, but I'll be all too happy to see ESPN forced to go back to actual football analysis than the Disney-influenced network they've become.