Let's face it, for avid football fans, and even above average ones, today is basically December 24th. And with less than 24 hours until we get to hear, "The St. Louis Rams are now on the clock," I'm ready to put on my football sweater.
How great is the NFL Draft? No really, how great is it? Well let me tell you how truly wonderful it is. Everyone, even Rams' and Lions' fans, think they have a shot at the playoffs. More than half the league thinks one player can get them to "Destination Dallas" for Super Bowl XLV. And for every team, their "guy" is still available.
But why is this day, in which no actual football will be played, so exciting? Well let's look at no better example than the Lions. Let's look back at the last decade of football for Detroit. It starts with the number 0, meaning 0 playoff appearances. Only the Buffalo Bills also haven't been to the playoffs in that time, and the Houston Texans, but they weren't around until 2002. Then you have the fact that the Lions went through an era in which they're GM had a lower football IQ than her .
On the upside they drafted four stud wide receivers...in college, and got a brand new stadium...which is more famous for hosting Super Bowl XL, the 2009 NCAA Final Four, and, last but not least, Wrestle Mania 23 (that was when John Cena won the WWE title, and Donald Trump won the battle of the billionaires, in case you forgot). What am I getting at? Basically, the Lions have been awful since Barry Sanders walked out in 1998, and tonight, Lion's fans believe the draft will turn all that around.
The draft represents a way for Detroit to emerge as a potential playoff contender and leave the title of "laughing stock of the league" for the next team—probably the Raiders. Until 6:30 P.M. April 22, 2010, the Lion's fans can scheme all the possible ways the Lions could get "their guy," and none of them are incorrect. Their minds are free to run wild with ways that the Lions make the playoffs next year, or even better, win the Super Bowl, all because of the draft.
I'm about 98-percent certain the Lions don't make the playoffs though. I leave 2 percent for the reason of "crazier things have happened." But that's how much power the draft holds, and we all are drawn to the entertainment of power. The what-ifs put us as fans on the edge of our swivel chairs in our cubicles. Mock drafts create an activity to get us through the day. Trade possibilities and scenarios are racing through our minds frequently enough to make us think that any player in the league could be attained.
For teams like Patriots and the Cowboys, the draft represents that "one guy" who will allow Tom Brady to win his fourth ring, or Tony Romo to get over Jessica Simpson. It provides hope for teams like the Bengals to finally take a guy whose off-field incidents won't get more famous than his on-field highlights. And for teams like the Vikings, Colts, and Saints the draft is simply a platform for getting back to the Super Bowl, and showing why they deserved to be there last year.
This isn't like free agency; we have no idea how good a rookie is going to be in the NFL. And it's not like a trade, because you don't lose anything, although the Lions, Browns, and Raiders fans could argue against that. It's something better than both of those combined. The draft gives everyone entertainment, as every pick involves every team, as every team is affected by a player being picked before them.
And this year's drama couldn't be any higher. Every year I find myself saying, "this year is so much better than last year," but I truly believe this year has something more to offer: the debate of Suh and Gerald McCoy; whether Tebow and Colt McCoy are legitimate first round picks and if someone will take a stab at them; how many O-lineman will go in the first round; is Clausen a top 10 or top 20 pick? Is Al Davis going to finally draft with some intelligence or just try and find another Heyward-Bey?
The story lines go on and on, and every fan and every team thinks they know what they are doing and are going to get a player who will win them Super Bowl after Super Bowl for the next decade. Too bad no one really has any clue when it comes to drafting. It's all just a big gamble, but that's just another reason why it's one of the greatest things in sports.