By Julie Buehler
I’ll be in New York City as you read this, likely enjoying a jog through Central Park, I can bring you back some authentic NYC litter if you like.
There will also a record 30 NFL draft prospects that will be in NYC with me for the 2014 NFL Players Selection Meeting, aka, the draft.
It’s the most watched, talked about and debated draft among the top sports leagues. In fact, ratings last year were better than some of the playoffs games in the NHL and NBA. And perhaps rightfully so, the pendulum of fate, emotion and impact swings so widely from the first pick to the 256th that fans boo the kids coming out of college who have no control over where their name is called and this comes after weeks of watching grown-men spit bald-faced lies in the media to protect their own team’s interests.
The draft we see today is an amazing spectacle created by the NFL for today’s ADD fans and has evolved slowly to get there.
It’s no longer just the hype of Hollywood movies, this past year, we actually had a movie made about it, called Draft Day.
Gone are the days where players are unknown until they put their NFL uniforms on. Now we get undulating analysis from every media outlet that pulls a talking head out of their mother’s basements long enough to offer thoughts on a defensive end from Middle Tennessee State, then plunges back into the dark film room to unearth another gem of a ‘sleeper.’
The history of the NFL draft is fascinating. While today, the kids picked in the top rounds are celebrated and the hopes of a franchise rest on their shoulders, but 2 of the first 3 top overall selections never played in the NFL.
In 1936 the format began with the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Jay Berwanger, the Heisman winning halfback that previous year as the top pick. He never played a down. In fact, the first draft for the Eagles resulted in 0 players that contributed to the team that year.
Now, just getting drafted is “an honor.” Just as Mr. Irrelevant, the guy who waits until everyone else is called before hearing his name. It’s the name coined for the kid picked dead last and thanks to a charity in Orange County, gets the biggest party of all draft picks.
It’s true, only 15 of the “Mr. Irrelevants” called since 1967 have played in a regular season NFL game, but that doesn’t stop the celebration of hearing your name called. Even if it is last. Dead last.
The draft has changed drastically in every way from team preparation, to prospect preparation, to national television and exposure.
Yet, it’s remarkably remained unchanged in one way. It’s an inexact science. Predictably unpredictable yet every team scout and executive wraps themselves in a cocoon of information for the sake of believing THEIR picks will pan out. The best part about the draft is not the talent evaluation or the understanding of building a football team, but rather, the chances of a late round pick developing into a Hall-of-Famer is as good as a top-pick being out of the league after 4 years of futility.
The fact there are no guarantees is exactly what makes the draft so compelling.
While the stories of Roger Staubach serving our nation for 5 years after the Cowboys drafted him or Tom Brady hearing quarterbacks named Spergon Wynn or Giovanni Carmazzi called well before him, the draft results in fantastic stories of expectations surpassed and expectations dashed and somewhere in the balance are kids like Russell Wilson or Navarro Bowman, who were drafted by teams who knew how to utilize their talents and make the most of those selections.
So I’ll be broadcasting live from Radio City Music Hall Thursday, May 8th and Friday May 9th, to tell the stories of those heading to the next level and hopefully offer the insight into who’s going to be someone we talk about for years to come.
Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at www.team1010.com or watch the show on Ustream.