Make the NFL Draft Al Davis-Proof: A Plea from a Weary Raiders Fan
The image still burns brightly in my mind.
There the frog was, sitting in a putrid swamp, strumming a banjo, and singing about how difficult it was to wear his colors. I thought, "What a weak, pathetic creature."
Life was good. At no time did I question my Silver and Black colors. And yet as I gazed at the TV, this amphibian—much like New England Patriots fans of the '80s—showed little faith in its banner as "people passed them by."
It has been over 20 years since that crowning achievement for the Raiders. Since then, this once-proud franchise has taken its loyal fanbase to new lows.
I now find myself alone on a log, in a putrid media swamp, singing about how hard it is being Silver and Black.
As a Raiders fan, the regular season and offseason have become as pleasant as having jalapeno oil on your finger when putting contacts in.
Even the simplest excitement of an upcoming NFL draft has been systematically squashed by the Raiders' Dark Lord, Al Davis.
Why get worked up over the potential football players who could be drafted, when the owner will be selecting Joe "Track Star" or Barry "Combine Workout Warrior"?
Trust me. It’s not easy being Silver and Black.
So a few month back, while slumped over on my cypress log, munching on 'skeeters and watching the College Senior Bowl, it dawned on me.
The NFL can Al-proof the draft, and bring some excitement back to us loyal Raiders fans—or pathetic creatures, if you prefer.
When you've hit the bottom of the swamp, you have to start somewhere, right?
The East/West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl have increasingly captured the attention of football fans. As the draft becomes more focused, NFL fans want to see the top college prospects show their talents on the field.
What a better way to do this than on the gridiron?
Unfortunately, these games only highlight selected players. The rest are only able to show off their athletic skills in the NFL combine and individual pro days. So in the great "Underwear Olympics," these prospect catch the attention of owners like Davis, not with their football talents but with speed and brawn.
My first suggestion would be to create more scrimmages for prospects to compete on the field, rather than with the stopwatch and bench press. Regional scrimmages can be conducted so that prospects from smaller schools can highlight their football talents.
This stops the YouTube highlight video from falling into the hands of a feeble-minded owner in search of the next Jack Tatum or Cliff Branch.
Of course, there is a sneaky way to block Al from the draft.
The NFL is going primetime with the draft. If Al's minions can keep the time and date secret, then Davis will call his picks in on Saturday morning and get his combine talent right where it belongs, in the fifth and sixth rounds.
It's getting easier to be Silver and Black.
This next suggestion is extreme, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
I would call upon the NFL to limit the combine to two days and only invite the top five players from each position to attend.
Other prospects can conduct individuals pro days with the same combine drills, but both the combine and pro-day drills must be done in full pads.
One would think if scouts are looking for athletic tangibles of a football player, they can see the prospect move around in pads. It would give new meaning to the player's 40-time.
But as I strum about the struggles of my team's colors, I realize things won't change.
Al Davis will continue to select track stars and project players. Realistically, the league may implement a rookie salary cap to lessen the sting to the salary cap. It could all but eliminate the word "bust" as it applies to football prospects.
Still, this doesn't make it easy being Silver and Black.
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