TERRE HAUTE — I don’t often channel Tom Petty, but on the grand, glorious uber-national holiday that is the NFL Draft, I can’t get him out of my head today.
Take back … the NFL combine. Take back your 40 time. Take back the ups and downs of your mock draft from April 8.
Take back … geeky draftniks. Take back Brian Orakpo (Sorry Brian, it was the closest I could get to “Joe Piscopo”, you’re otherwise innocent in this). Take back Mel Kiper.
Give ’em all some place to go.
Their jammin’ me. Quit jammin’ me.
I’ve finally said no to the NFL Draft … and it feels good. Aside from professional obligation, I did not watch one minute of the NFL Draft on Saturday and won’t today either.
No, I don’t have a death in the family or some other life-or-death emergency that ESPN and NFL Network would lead you to believe is the only excuse that would not require revocation of my man card.
I can no longer abide the hype around an “event” that basically boils down to a NFL flunky announcing names at a podium. Speaking of which, it floors me that people actually go in person to watch Roger Goodell sashay on stage to name names. It’s free to attend, but P.T. Barnum sends his shout-out from the great beyond nonetheless.
With pre-draft hype having driven me over the edge, anything is preferable to watching one minute of the actual event. I’d rather watch auto racing. I’d rather watch baseball. I’d rather go to Andy Amey’s house and watch the Capitals-Rangers game on his HDTV. I like games, I’m funny that way.
More important, I’d rather do whatever my son Niall wants to do on his birthday today.
Maybe I shouldn’t take my frustration out on the draft, given that the pre-draft hype is what really drives me batty. However, so much of the draft day coverage is based upon opinions formed out of endless, speculative pre-draft paralysis by analysis, I can’t get around it anymore.
When major air time is devoted to draft “experts” bloviating on every team’s pick based on opinions that are formed out of very little to no real NFL or college experience, it’s time to change the channel.
So much of it is hype for the sake of hype … and hype must always feed itself.
For example, no one has ever adequately explained to me why a mock draft would change from, say, April 10 to draft day.
The combine is long past, the ego-gratifying pro days are usually over by then, so short of a legal entanglement or a hard-case agent, what could possibly change someone’s draft stock in the last month or so before the draft? What evolution in their talent dossier causes a player’s stock to rise or fall when virtually nothing of consequence occurs to make it happen?
Could it be the seemingly endless mock drafts, and the changes contained within, are needed to justify the existence of draft experts? Shhh! They’ll take your ESPN away!
I can’t even claim old fogeyism as a defense for my draft backlash. The popularity of the NFL Draft has been a part of the scenery for most of my life.
I used to be into the draft too, but as the years went by and the hype ratcheted up, I became more disinterested. Maybe 10 years ago, I ignored all of the draft stuff until draft week. Maybe five years ago, even that small dose became insufferable, and I reserved my interest for draft day itself. Now I’ve gone all the way with my apathy.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand why the draft is important. I understand what it means to the development of a team. And yes, I maintain a professional interest because the Tribune-Star covers the Indianapolis Colts.
However, as many of you know, I’m a Wisconsin native, and as an inveterate cheesehead, I am a fan of all of my home-state teams. My Green Bay Packers’ fanboy credentials have heretofore been impeccable, and as far as I’m concerned, remain so. Yet, I have not invested one moment’s worth of interest in who the Packers are drafting this year … and they have a top 10 pick.
As with many problems with sports, much of the draft overkill can be blamed on that four-letter network based in Connecticut.
ESPN played a vital role in creating draft interest, and like many things ESPN did well, ’round about the late 1990s or so they decided something that was reasonably informative needed to morph into an entertainment extravaganza.
The problem with turning a news event into entertainment is that they continually have to feed the beast to make sure the draft continues to, you know, entertain.
The endgame? You get made-for-TV/web site dreck like ESPN’s Mock Draft For The Ages, complete with analysis of a made-up non-event from ESPN’s bloggers included! Yes Virginia, there is currently major web site bandwith dedicated to how Barry Sanders would help the current Colts. Pardon my Mocking Laughter For The Ages.
What I am primarily interested in is the post-draft analysis. That’s something I can sink my teeth into. How did teams mesh their draft class with their available talent? Which guys are projects, which guys will help immediately?
You get some of that to be sure, but even the post-draft analysis usually boils down to infantile grades for each team based on premises and opinions that were formed before the draft, treated as if they are gospel.
Maybe I’m from Missouri by way of Wisconsin, but there’s no way any team deserves an A or an F until the draftees show what they can do on the field. That’s something that usually can’t be assessed until years after they’ve been drafted. But that won’t fill a beer-sponsored segment on SportsCenter, so bring on the hype!
Maybe some of this boils down to the fact that there’s a segment of fans who seem to care more about what goes into building teams that the games themselves. Obsession with recruiting is the collegiate step-brother of the draft. Recruiting web site star ratings are the collegiate version of the mock drafts and are also unfairly used to determine gems and busts.
Those fans exist, and if that’s your bag, all power to you. To me, nearly all of it is “information” based entirely on speculation, which isn’t really information.
Oh well. No worries anymore. The NFL Draft no longer has me painted in a corner.
I walked away. Is it over?
Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check out Golden’s blog at blogs.tribstar.com/downinthevalley
TERRE HAUTE — I don’t often channel Tom Petty, but on the grand, glorious uber-national holiday that is the NFL Draft, I can’t get him out of my head today.
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