It’s the most wonderful time of the year, for sports. The NHL playoffs are in full swing, now we get to see Barry Melrose and his historic mullet every night on ESPN for the next few months in addition to sports’ best, most grueling, playoff. March Madness just came to a riveting end, even though the two semifinal games were lame the final made up for it. The most prestigious tournament in golf began Thursday with the hype being at an all time high because of one big cat you may have heard a little about. The MLB season has just begun as well, now impatient fans can finally get a good feel if their team is going to be a contender or pretender as each club embarks on the 162 game quest. The NBA playoffs are about to start and aside from the endless coverage the NBA receives on ESPN they continue to be unbelievably forgettable. The WNBA draft took place on Wednesday, everyone made sure to tune into that. The Frozen Four is underway right now and offered a great overtime game last night setting up what will most likely be an outstanding final. And amidst all of these great sporting events the NFL and its brain trust still find a way to stick their nose in everything.
In the middle of the offseason, when you usually hear very little news about most other sports, the NFL has found a way to make headline after headline in what is by far the most hyped professional sports entry draft. It’s at this time every year that the likes of Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, and Jeremy Green begin frothing at the mouth, spewing out new prediction after new prediction like a sick college freshman after their first “big night” in an effort to keep viewers on the edge of their seat regarding who will be number one. The volatility of the stock of these poor college kids would deter even the most intrepid investors from investing in them. There was even discussion last year of moving the first round to Friday night, so the weekend could be completely suffocated by NFL coverage. Fortunately the brain trust didn’t pull the lever.
I won’t deny that I love the NFL Draft. It may be because of all the hype, or the fact that I’ve watched it every year since I can remember. Whatever it may be I have grown to love watching and anticipating the decisions various scouts and owners will make and who will be endlessly ridiculed or excessively praised. This year I have paid closer attention to the hype and found out how ridiculous it really is. Aside from how boring and repetitive the surplus of articles and television coverage are, they have put so much unneeded pressure on these young men at a very vulnerable time when they are looking to define what kind of person they are going to be. It’s no surprise that so many of them run into legal problems. Although, the argument can be made that this is part of the job description, which is why all NFL teams conduct what seems to be an endless string of personality tests in addition to the rigorous physical tests, another “draft aspect” us readers/viewers are so fortunate to learn so much about.
So, like it or not, the NFL Draft is going to continue to get as much, if not more, buildup as the Super Bowl. Maybe it’s because Americans love to make sports picks (NCAA brackets, mock drafts) and be able to point and laugh at coworkers and friends when they are right and the others are wrong. Maybe people don’t have enough to do at work and can do nothing better than read articles about how much better a football player is going to be because of a difference of 5 one-hundredths of a second in the 40 yard dash. Whatever the reason is, as a nation we eat up the competition and the hype which means there will be no let up of draft nerds like Kiper and McShay gushing about risers and demoralizing fallers as these kids continue to have to deal with the pressure and temptation of being in the spotlight. It’s almost like Charles Darwin designed the blueprint for the NFL.