I have turned on SportsCenter every day this week, and almost every time, ESPN has led the show with NFL Draft “news.” It’s bad enough that the four-letter network shoves the almighty NFL down our throats every week of the year. But the NFL Draft is perhaps the most overblown, overhyped event on the sports calendar.
I don’t want to completely napalm the draft. It’s a tremendous thrill for the athletes selected. Hearing their names called and shaking hands with the commissioner is undoubtedly one of the greatest moments of their lives. And they deserve it. But the draft is so riddled with problems that it’s nearly impossible to enjoy.
For starters, the draft is now on in primetime, which is tolerable and by far the least egregious of this event’s crimes. But it’s three days long. Three days! There’s absolutely no reason for the first round to be separate from the second and third and for the second and third to be separate from the final four. Two days should be the absolute maximum.
Secondly, the amount of coverage in the weeks before the draft is completely absurd. Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay bombard us with their mock drafts and predictions day after day after day. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I hit my saturation point pretty darn quickly. And I don’t want to pick on ESPN (though they are the network that perpetuates this whole thing.) Most radio and TV outlets fall into the same trap of blitzing the viewer with draft coverage.
It’s not like there’s nothing else to talk about, either. The NHL playoffs are in full swing. The NBA playoffs will begin in a few days. Baseball has begun, and already we’ve had a perfect game just a few weeks into the season. There’s so much else to cover, but all we get is (John Madden voice for this part) FOOTBALL!
And the coverage itself isn’t even worthwhile. In the few days before the draft, you’ll see several stories talking about players’ stock rising and falling. How the hell can your stock rise or fall the day before the draft? What could Ryan Tannehill or Justin Blackmon possibly do on Tuesday that affects their position on Thursday night? These guys have gone through at least three years of college football, the NFL Combine and pro days. But now, all of a sudden, they either soar or plummet? Give me a break. Teams will take the best player in their eyes when it’s their turn to pick.
Thirdly, there’s no drama to this draft. Part of the appeal is finding out who will get taken No.1 and, to some extent, No. 2. This year, we know that already. The Colts already announced they will take Andrew Luck with the first pick, and, barring a monumental shock, the Redskins will take Robert Griffin III. Beyond that, does anyone really care all that much who the Vikings take in the third spot, the Browns at four, etc.? Honestly, the only pick I care about is who my Giants will take at No. 32. I’d wager the same is true for most of the NFL fans who aren’t obsessed with the sport and don’t pore over their draft boards.
Finally, during and after the draft, you’ll hear the experts grade each pick and comment on whether or not Team X made the right pick by drafting Player Y. It’s a complete waste of time. There’s no way to grade any of these players or picks BEFORE THEY EVER PLAY A SINGLE DOWN IN THE NFL. When the Raiders picked JaMarcus Russell, Mel Kiper Jr. said he was “John Elway-like” and could be “one of the elite top five quarterbacks in the league” in a few years. Todd McShay said he couldn’t “remember being in such awe of a quarterback in my decade of attending combines and pro days.”
How’d that work out for them?
So Thursday night, my remote will more than likely not guide me to ESPN. You know what else is on? Rangers-Senators Game 7 AND Devils-Panthers Game 7. A pair of elimination games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs or watching people sit in chairs and walk across a stage for three hours?
My eyes will be fixed squarely on the ice.