There are three or four corridors of desperation for sports fans, or at least for sports fans who follow sports commentary. Baseball’s All Star game break is the worst – no baseball, basketball, football, hockey, golf, tennis, sailing, horse racing, or battle of the NFL wives. The Home Run Derby is ok, but there’s not much to say about it in advance. The two weeks before the Super Bowl could be better as both basketball and hockey are in play, but sports radio and tv land almost exclusively on Super Bowl prognostication, and interviews with celebrities who follow sports and athletes not playing on the contending teams get tedious in the extreme.
The first week is almost over, and even though NOTHING is happening in the Hot Stove League, I think I’ll have more than enough going on after the Super Bowl in the other sports to keep me sated until the NFL Draft.
Remember last year?
Seventy-five THOUSAND football fans stood outdoors in Philadelphia last night to witness the selection of the most highly regarded college football players by NFL teams eager to concuss them. Worst teams pick first, which sounds absolutely fair until we notice that the same worst teams seem to get the same slots in the lottery. Well, it’s actually the same team, the Cleveland Browns, feeding off the bottom year in and year out. Browns fans, and they do exist, were on pins and needles until the first selection was announced as the front office has picked non-functioning quarterbacks with stunning regularity.
Why do I hover over the Brown’s pick?
A. Because it doesn’t matter – the Browns will be awful.
B. Because there were no other real issues.
C. Because in delivering the announcement of the selection, universally despised Commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, faced the full-throated disapprobation of seventy-five thousand haters. Full-throated hating is what Philadelphia does best, and viewers were not disappointed. Goodell appeared unimpressed with their efforts, however, perhaps because he pulls down thirty-four MILLION dollars a year.
The draft provided no drama or gripping tension, and yet, we have had three weeks of non-stop prognostication from “experts” who have analyzed every vertical leap, every second shaved in the forty yard dash, every misdemeanor and felony. The human bobble-head, NFL Draft Guru, ESPN’s Mel Kiper, had grappled with every possible contingency, assuring everyone within the sound of his voice that he absolutely with complete certainty and aggressive assurance knew precisely which players would be chosen by which teams and in which order.
I may be flying in the face of long-held convictions, but my experience has been that weather forecasts, economic forecasts, palm readings, burnt entrails, and recent Presidential polls have all performed with about the same level of success.
So, last year Kiper landed about twenty-two percent of his predictions. How did Nostradraftsmus do this year? Let’s just take the first ten to keep computation simple.
Team Kiper Actual
Browns Mitch Trubisky QB Myles Garrett DE
Bears Solomon Thomas DE Mitch Trubisky QB – moved up
49ers Myles Garrett DE Solomon Thomas DE
Jaguars Leonard Fournette RB Leonard Fournette RB
Titans Jamal Adams S Corey Davis WR
Jets O.J. Howard TE Jamal Adams S
Chargers Deshaun Watson QB Mike Williams WR
Panthers Christian McCaffrey RB Christian McCaffrey RB
Bengals Jonathan Allen DL John Ross WR
Chiefs Evan Engram TE Patrick Mahomes QB – traded
So, twenty percent, which is to say, he correctly guessed that the two running backs would go to the teams needing running backs in the order in which running backs were evaluated. What he, and the entire gaggle of pundits, forgot is the NFL’s fondness for offense and the passing game in particular. Lots of talk this year about a weak quarterback class, an insanely strong group of defensive players, and the idiocy of drafting running backs in the first round. Less talk about the first ten turning out to include two quarterbacks, three wide receivers, and two running backs.
Are there moments of grace beyond the greeting given Commissioner Goodell on EVERY announcement? Well, despite anchor Trey Wingo’s unfortunate confusion of Sasquatch with Chewbacca, we were spared the nasal wit of long-time host, Chris Berman, whose fondness for punning nicknames was legendary. He, after all, came up with Sammy “Say It Ain’t” Sosa, Mike “Pepperoni” Piazza, Miguel “Tejada They Come, Tejada They Fall” and his finest (?), Chuck “New Kids on the” Knoblauch. There is no doubt we would have been treated to his wry dubbing of the Houston Texan’s pick at quarterback, Deshaun “Elementary My Dear” Watson.
Enough for now. The Lions are on the clock.