2012 NFL Draft: A Totally Unabashed, Inappropriate Hatred of the Event
The NFL draft is an overinflated, hyperpublicized event that is as superfluous in length as it is in significance. When then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle was confronted with the idea of broadcasting the draft on ESPN in 1980, he responded with "Why do you want to do that?", not realizing the draft would soon turn into a cattle auction but with endless amounts of prognosticating and repetition.
If 4th-and-inches is the only "pure thing" left in football, then the NFL draft is the exact opposite—a glamorized announcement of transactions where players get to wear suits and hats and are subject to future-gazing that rarely ceases.
It's a game of chance that is paraded by countless experts who all believe they're the psychic whose crystal ball isn't plugged into a wall. That's not to say NFL draft experts are worthless—guys like Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller are exceptions to the norm, and that's because an absurd amount of time and effort is put into predicting something that can be so fickle. His skill as a draft analyst is from not seeing the draft as a science. It's "as much of a science as picking lottery numbers," he said. He realizes the draft is incredibly mercurial in nature and that everything before the draft is just a theory.
Teams are historically unsuccessful with picks at all rounds, and same goes to the draft experts. No one really knows what is going to happen with any player, and the best anyone can really do is make an educated guess. However, watch any network this draft, and you'll see analysts who are just making guesses but saying them extremely seriously and trumpeting what they are saying as fact.
It's not even worth complaining about the two-headed, never-ending counterpoint segment of Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay, because what hasn't been said? They argue for months and months without building peptic ulcers, is all I'll say, which is impressive given how certain and amazingly eternal their debates are.
That's not the most gregarious part about the draft, though. As Drew Magary notes at Deadspin, it's that the NFL draft, offseason and season have all combined as one, all to be talked about during every month of the year. There are already mock drafts for 2013, even though literally anything can and will happen during the next year. It just never, ever ends.
It's not a bad thing that the NFL is always at the forefront of our national sports conversation, it's just that the narrative rarely changes. There are only so many ways to fawn over Andrew Luck before it becomes weird. The fact that the draft has turned into a year-long event has also made people feel forced to create nothing out of something, like the ridiculous and unfortunately now-eminent accusations that Robert Griffin III had "character issues."
Tony Romo said earlier this week that the draft is "boring" and "monotonous," and he's right. It is. In my non-humble opinion, the draft is best served as a filler during commercials of NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup. I'll tune in briefly to watch the Steelers ignore their pressing needs for an offensive line, and then move on. I just can't take hours of round-table nonsense and forced interviews that are only impressive in that they are constantly rewording "Are you happy this team chose you?" Lots of skill at hand.
Do you like shots of men on telephones? The NFL says players can't be seen doing this anymore, but don't worry, plenty of scenes featuring front-office people in "war rooms" staring at each other on cell phones will never be more than 10 minutes apart. Every pick seems to take the full amount of allotted time, as if NFL front-office people are college kids who forgot the exam was in 10 minutes.
It lasts three days, and millions of people will passively watch the event turn into the fourth hour of the Today Show by Friday, even though there are still two full days left. There are people who get juiced up for the draft, and that's cool. In fact, probably most NFL fans have no huge complaints about the draft and will probably think I'm a curmudgeon who needs to lighten up.
But I can't take it.
Maybe if I went to the draft, it would be cool, because at least then my disdain of the Jets fans who are present at the draft can be fully justified. As for now, I just see the draft as an event that is exaggerated in its importance, mainly because it is such an imperfect science for all those involved.
Oh, and please. No report cards tomorrow, or ever.
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