Like a lot of people, I love professional football. While my interest in other sports has waned as I’ve gotten older, my love for the NFL, and the Denver Broncos in particular, has never been higher. This explains why I watched Peyton Manning on “Late Night with David Letterman” earlier this week, a program I haven’t watched since Dave’s hosting skills became a real life parody of Dana Carvey’s “Grumpy Old Man” skit from Saturday Night Live about 15 years ago.
While my love for pro football and the Broncos remains strong, what I don’t like is the NFL moving the draft back two weeks. The NFL draft used to be held in April, but now it will begin this Thursday, May 8, and run for three days. Chances are if you follow sports, and the NFL in particular, you are now a victim of Draft Fatigue. ESPN, the NFL Network, Fox Sports and even local TV stations have been bombarding viewers with non-stop draft analysis from what seems like the day after the Super Bowl ended.
Will Jadeveon Clowney go first or will Houston trade down? Are the Rams trying to trade Sam Bradford to take a quarterback with their first pick in the first round? Is Derek Carr the second coming of his brother David Carr? And can you really trust a franchise to a guy named Blake Bortles? Doesn’t that sound like a Bond villain?
In the past few weeks I’ve seen 89 mock drafts and 343 profiles on Johnny Manziel (numbers are approximate). And that’s just on ESPN. Sports fans may suffer through Draft Fatigue but don’t believe for a second that makes a difference to the NFL. The league, which recently banned the oh-so-dangerous act of dunking the football after scoring a touchdown, has shown repeatedly that when it comes to making decisions, there isn’t a bad move that comes from the league office. Why would the NFL extend the draft when it is not only bad for the players (increases chance of injury prior to the draft, gives young players less time to adjust to NFL life), but also for the teams themselves (less time with players, the risk of over analyzing picks), fans (see: Draft Fatigue) and even the NFL itself (overexposure)? For one simple reason – the NFL lives under the belief that there’s no such thing as bad publicity and they just might have a bit of a God complex. Ok, they do, no maybes about it. Who are we kidding? It’s clear that after making money hand over first for so long and having a sport that only seems to grow in popularity and revenue, the NFL acts infallible.
Sure, they don’t want you bringing up concussions, how they treat former players or union disputes with refs (all issues that the league has brushed off with little repercussions), but as long as you’re talking about the NFL, Roger Goodell and the suits at the league office are happy campers. While everyone – fans, coaches, TV analysts, etc. – seems to be annoyed with the extra two weeks of non-stop draft analysis, chances are you’re still talking about the draft to your friends and will still watch anyway, proving the NFL right, that we just can’t quit them.
Gah! See! Even I’m a sucker for it as I sit here and gripe about the draft while I wonder who the Broncos can grab with such a low first round pick and ponder the chances they could trade up to get linebacker CJ Mosely. Words of warning from Mark Cuban or no, I have hand it to you NFL. You win again. You just know how to play the game better than anyone else. For now anyway.