Leave it to the NFL to make a mockery out of the NFL Draft.
The NFL is already trying to cope with lower than average TV ratings- although the draft turned in big numbers this year in the ratings department-and with this year’s draft taking place in Dallas the league should have known (in light of Roger Goodell’s recent discipline of Jerry Jones) that the now annual cascade of boos toward Roger Goodell would hit a 10 on the Richter scale.
So, what did they do?
They decided to have a cadre of former Cowboy luminaries such as Bob Lilly and Roger Staubach escort Goodell to the podium.
Obviously, the NFL still has no clue about its audience.
And talk about having no clue---when the fans upon Goodell’s arrival at the podium burst into their deafening boos---which rendered the cadre of Cowboy Hall of Famers embarrassingly and helplessy moot---Goodell had the temerity to say, “What, you are booing your own Cowboys?”
So this is how the 2018 NFL Draft from Dallas began.
So then---when at 8:10 EDT Goodell finally put the Cleveland Browns on the clock, we have to sit there for 10 minutes to finally learn who the player that GM John Dorsey decided on two months ago was.
Really? We have to sit there for and wait for ten minutes? After the Cleveland Browns had 4 months to decide?
For those of us who live in the East, this is one of the worst nights of the year to conduct the NFL Draft, especially for those of us who have to get up early to go to work or school.
Even as the Browns’ time ran out, it seemed forever for Goodell and legend Jim Brown to get to the podium in order to finally announce the pick.
Rich Eisen of NFL Network, whose wit is a welcome reprieve during the excruciating pauses between picks, proclaimed at the beginning of the broadcast that “ the Browns pick is going to set the tempo for the franchise and for the night.”
Set the tempo? They sure did. They basically ensured that the 1st round was going to drag on until midnight.
So then we have to watch each of the players in the green room don a hat and walk to the stage for the traditional bear hug with the Commish.
This is kind of like graduating from college and in all of your glory and relief and excitement having to hug Donald Trump or Steve Bannon. And then pose with them for photos!
The NFL Draft has become virtually unbearable (pun intended) to watch.
You see---what the NFL does not seem to understand are two very critical aspects of what this occasion means and to whom this occasion matters most.
The occasion is to honor and celebrate the players who have worked so hard to make their draft dreams come true.
Secondly, the type of football fans who wish to tune into all three phases of the draft could give two sheets about the pageantry---they just want to know who the picks are and to share in their moment of glory. Most NFL fans are big-time college football fans---as in serious, well-educated fans.
I don’t know of anyone who tunes into the NFL Draft for sheer entertainment purposes or to watch old NFL veterans slur the names of the draft picks they are announcing, or taunt rival teams, or watch maudlin, ill-placed tributes to the military or tragedy victims.
There are far more sincere, well-timed and meaningful ways to honor the military or victims of hardship.
It’s not that true NFL fans don’t care about NFL veterans or the military or victims of tragedies---it’s just that---on this night----this occasion should be all about the draftees. This is their shining moment. Not Roger Goodell’s. Not Jim Brown’s or Bob Lilly’s. Not the military’s. Not the victims’ of tragedies. Having others share in or dominate the spotlight during the player’s proudest moment is poor form.
So what can and should be done about this?
First of all, in 2019 and beyond Roger Goodell must recuse himself for the sake of the integrity of the event.
Secondly, speed up the clocks. Make the 1st round 7 minutes and every other pick 5.
Thirdly, instead of Goodell making the picks, have home team star veterans announce the picks from the round in which they were taken.
For example, the Cowboy stars who could have announced the picks in the round they were taken are:
1st---Emmitt Smith (1990)
2nd---Darren Woodson (1992)
3rd---Charlie Waters (1970)
4th---Marion Barber (2005)
It would be so much more meaningful for the players to be met and embraced by Emmitt Smith, rather than Roger Goodell.
Fourthly, make the 6th round (which typically by then is a snooze fest for viewers) the creative team pick round like the Cardinals did with The Corner of Winslow. That was awesome! But have every team ready to go, and if a team doesn’t have a 6th round pick do it for their 7th round pick, so each team gets its chance.
In fact, have an award for the most clever and creative pick presentation---to be determined by the viewers who text in their votes after all 32 teams have presented.
Finally, keep the focus on the draftees for all 7 rounds. Again this is their day. It’s not the time to be visiting for 10 minutes with Sean Payton.
OK---let’s be honest---how much (in total hours) of the 2018 NFL Draft did you watch?
A) Less than 1.
B) Between 1-2.
C) Between 2-3.
D) Between 3-4.
E) Between 4-5.
F) The whole thing.
G) None of it.
When it was a one night (not on a weekday) and one afternoon format, I watched pretty much the whole thing, year after year.
If the TV coverage and the NFL format focused on the players, I would still watch the whole draft.
This year I got so aggravated and fed up at times, that I turned my attention to something else.
I would say that my answer is C, between 2-3 total hours. I fell asleep during Round 1 on Thursday night. I watched an hour-long drama during round 3 on Friday night and I watched about 45 minutes total on Saturday.
How about you? Be honest.