The Short Game: The American Dream in Seven Rounds

Mike Carlson, Spear Contributor

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Let’s face it. Baseball maybe “America’s Pastime,” but it doesn’t hold a candle in popularity to football. Want proof? Look no further than the fact that baseball’s championship series (the World Series) was about four million viewers short of what the NFL Draft pulled in and that was at the Series’s peak time. In other words, baseball’s most crucial games are second string-type stuff when stacked up against the behemoth that is the NFL Draft.

Can you blame America though?

The event formerly known as the Annual Player Selection Meeting has morphed from a casual gathering of teams into the Oscars in shoulder pads.

The Draft has more drama, more money, and more on the line in the seven rounds it spans. The only thing quicker than the 40-yard dash times are the decisions every team’s GM is faced with.

Chaos, allow me to introduce you to the NFL Draft.

Money, inevitably, comes to the forefront come draft time. Heck, more money changes hands at the Draft than on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. And the difference ordering the fish or the chicken at the post-draft dinner party, can be summed up in a handful of picks. A “small” pre-draft mistake can quickly turn into a “six million dollar” pre-draft mistake once the first team goes on the clock. Projected top ten pick Shane Ray lost nearly four million dollars after he given a citation for possessing marijuana. He ended up in Denver as a Bronco and I’ll spare you the all-too-obvious legalized weed joke.

Which brings me to the point that proofreading a dictionary still doesn’t nearly describe how in depth players are scrutinized leading up to the draft. Teams hire private investigators, ask complex questions, and watch endless hours of film in an effort to make the right selection. Could you imagine if businesses utilized the same practice?

Interviewer: Well, we don’t think we can hire you. We watched your tape and just saw too many flaws in your stapling mechanics. Even with the best coaching we just don’t see you making the jump to HR.

You just can’t find the caliber of fan interaction anywhere else beside the NFL Draft. It’s a front row seat to the future. Despite the venue change, the level of fandom does not. Fans cheer and boo each pick. They lament or celebrate the future. And you can almost always count on everyone booing the Commissioner. It might as well be a part of the job description at this point.

But mostly, we watch the NFL Draft because it gives us a shred of a glimpse into the American Dream. The athletes being picked have worked hard to even get an invite to the festivities. Most come from tough backgrounds and the look every player gets when their name is called (even though you think he will totally be a bust) makes all the pandemonium worth it.

I mean getting tabbed by the Raiders, for some reason unbeknownst to me, seems a couple shades less depressing on draft night.

And if you can’t enjoy an event like that, then really what can you enjoy.

 

 

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