This is an open letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. We love the NFL draft. We, as a football-hungry country stuck in the middle of another long non-football season, adore watching player after player get selected as part of some everlasting hope that this next guy will be the prospect who changes everything for our team.
How many franchise quarterbacks will be selected during the 2014 NFL draft?
How many game-changing defensive ends will go in the first round?
How many deep-discount speedsters with questionable character who might change the playoff fortunes of whichever team decides to take a chance on him will fall to the second day?
The NFL draft is great. So stop trying to make it better because you are only making things worse.
Like everything the NFL does, if it is worth doing, the commissioner thinks it is worth overdoing.
Goodell has probably never heard of the expression "less is more." To Goodell, more is always more…and more and more and more.
Goodell probably has the expression "more is more" embroidered in gold thread on a throw pillow on the love seat in his office. By throw pillow, of course, I mean one of those full-sized body pillows fans can purchase from the NFL store. By love seat, I mean a 32-seat sectional that has room for the owners of every team and probably a few dozen television executives if they really squeeze together.
The NFL draft used to start on a Saturday in April and end the following day with a neatly tied seven-round bow, until someone at the NFL realized there was more money to be made around the drafting of college talent and decided to move the first round to prime time.
Why stop at just the first round, of course, because we love our football as much as possible! In short order, the league decided to have two rounds in prime time and to finish the draft on Saturday instead of Sunday.
But Sunday is the day people watch the most football, so it stands to reason that Goodell would suggest to the NFL Network's Rich Eisen (and thereby, the world) that ending the draft Sunday with Rounds 4 through 7 makes more sense. More being more and all.
Think about what's happened in the last few years. The draft used to give teams in the first round 15 minutes per pick, but the NFL dropped that down to 10 minutes per pick in order to accommodate a prime-time audience and still, inexplicably, the draft got longer by a full freaking day.
Now, Goodell wants it to be even longer because getting ratings over two networks for three days in April when there isn't as much competition on television isn't enough.
No, no. Goodell wants his draft to spread over four days in May, during sweeps, so his league can ostensibly destroy the NBA and NHL playoffs in ratings for nearly a full week.
If the draft stays in May—which Goodell has said he wants after, ahem, a scheduling error forced the league to push things back from the traditional April date this year—next year's fourth day could be May 10.
May 10, 2015, is Mother's Day.
Goodell probably has a plan in place to have every pick that day bring his mom to the draft to get a picture on the stage of the two of them holding an officially licensed pink jersey that will surely be for sale at the league's official online shop before the end of the day.
Sorry, mom, I love you, but the NFL draft is on and the Eagles really need a backup tight end in Round 6. I'll come over after they pick, which should be in about four hours.
Seriously, the time between picks is laughable, especially in the early rounds. Even going down to 10 minutes per team in the first round, which is better than it used to be on Saturday mornings, is insane for Thursday evening.
There are 32 NFL teams, which means the NFL plans annually for a first round that can take five-and-a-half hours to complete.
How is that in any way entertaining? An actual football game takes a little over three hours, but it takes the NFL almost twice that to put on one round of the NFL draft in prime time?
And instead of figuring out a way to shorten that time—like giving every team five minutes or less, or going so far as to conduct the draft in a secret room earlier in the day and announce the results in a special prime-time event like the NBA does with the draft lottery—the NFL wants to make it even longer.
The NFL wants everything to be longer. Let's make the season longer. Let's make the playoffs longer. Let's make the time between the combine and the draft longer. Let's make the actual selection of 256 players take four freaking days next year.
And really, why stop there? Why four days when it can be more?
Why not give every team its own night in the first round?
I'm serious, what if the NFL carved out one hour every night in prime time for an entire month? What if each team hosted a draft party that night to announce its pick, giving fans a chance to be a part of the NFL draft in every city? Sure, draft-day trades might get a little awkward, but that would just add to the intrigue of a month-long first round.
Somehow, the idea doesn't seem as crazy as I first thought. Think about a full day of buzz, rumors and conjecture around all the draft's big players, with the entire world focusing on whether Cleveland will take Johnny Manziel, an anonymous offensive tackle or just go on live TV and light its draft pick on fire that night.
Must. See. Television. Every night, for a month.
Goodell could make it a barnstorming tour of the league, going from city to city to make each pick. The players could travel around with the league too, going from city to city in hopes that night is their special night. Think about the manufactured drama the league gives us with green room cameras now. Imagine how dramatic it would be if instead of three hours of anguish, a player had to sit through three weeks.
And if the league planned things out right, the month-long first round could end on a Thursday, giving the league ample time Friday, Saturday and Sunday to finish Rounds 2 through 7. Everybody wins!
So my apologies, Commissioner Goodell. I sought to convince you that less might be more, but I have totally come around to the idea that more is, indeed, more. It's just not more enough yet.
Don't stop at four days. Don't stop at potentially putting the draft on Mother's Day. We can start the darn thing on St. Patrick's Day, move clear through Easter and still finish it up on Mother's Day.
If more is more, then more it will be.
Oh, and let's not stop at the draft, either. More can be more everywhere in the NFL universe, even on the game's biggest night. Well…nights.
If the NFL wants to turn an event that already takes three days into a must-watch four-day event despite the fact there is very little drama left in the made-for-TV draft process—when every scrap of news gets leaked on Twitter before the commissioner takes one step toward the podium to announce each pick—what's stopping him from doing the same thing to the Super Bowl?
If the draft can be four days, so can the Super Bowl.
Let's play the first quarter on Thursday, the second on Friday, the third on Saturday and the fourth on the traditional Super Bowl Sunday.
Much like the logic used for the extended draft, making the Super Bowl four days long would give teams more time to game plan for each quarter and give star players more time to rest, creating a situation where the play on the field would probably get even better.
More is always better in the NFL. Right?
Plus, we could have four pregame shows, and instead of a halftime show, we could have four post-quarter shows. More of everything!
Think about how great the ratings would be for a four-night Super Bowl. And let's not forget the NFL could charge four separate admissions, making the Super Bowl even more super, and lucrative, than ever before.
So please, Mr. Commissioner, if you're going to make a big event into a four-day extravaganza, make sure you pick the right one.
You know what? Pick both. After all, more is always better in your world.
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