NFL DRAFT MULTI MILLION $$ MEAT MARKET
The 2014 NFL Draft
By Patricia Moloney Dugas, Freelance Reporter
Prime Ribs – Racks of Ham – Sides of Beef – Burly Behemoths. The class of 2014.
There was more pre-draft coverage of this 2014 Draft than all the bad stuff Congress has done since 2008. Midst the din at the NY Radio City Music Hall, the stage was bedecked with an array of large-than-life (literally) young men, fresh out of college, now wearing diamond earrings & wristwatches the size of Frisbees, and mega-size dress suits. These unpaid servants of wealthy universities, often going to bed hungry, (really?), are lined up for live TV, hoping to become rich, over-paid, under-achieving NFL trainees. By dawn, those selected can buy Mom a new house, buy themselves a fleet of flash cars, and take their neighborhood to dinner with champagne. Make no mistake – these newbies are not picked by some local team, but by a mega-biz, mega-moolah conglomerate – the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys on Forbes are alone worth $2.3 b-b-b-billion! No place here for dilettantes and party boys.
Sorry, non-believers and you football scoffers watching Fox news, this event has equally as much drama as another moon landing. Half the planet has hot pizza, cheese krinkles, and cold beer lined up, families gathered around their aspirants, Mom’s already teary-eyed, wait breathlessly to watch NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saunter to center stage midst boo’s from the peanut galleries, (go figure), to declare -- the 2014 Draft open. The momentous moment arrives. “With the No.1 pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select,” pause, “Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney!” What! Not super QB self-declared commodity Johnny Manziel?! Hey, what’s a Clowney anyway? What’s a Jadeveon? Who? Why? (This was no surprise to the TV prognosticators -- just the howling galleries.) He is a 6’5” 266 pounds of teary eyed behemoth with 34 ½ inch arms. (Who measures arms?) A defensive-end chosen No.1 - Numero Uno?
There it’s done! History forever etched. One more No.1 into the annals of the NFL. Numbers 2 thru 255 are now strictly business.
Wait! No.3 Jacksonville choice is in. Goodell tells us they have selected -- a QB - Blake Bortles! What’s a Bortles? Not primo Johnny Football? No again. JF is left cooling his heels -- on camera – sipping a six-pack of water - and would remain there until selection No.22 by Philadelphia. Don’t feel bad for Manziel; Philadelphia is out printing up and selling a bizarre mega-bucks worth of memorabilia already! He hasn’t even read the play book!
Even though this year’s crop is “possibly the deepest ever,” there is no Andrew Luck in this herd. Many commentators agreed the cream rose to the top in 2012 – in the persona of Andrew Luck 2012 No.1 pick to the Indianapolis Colts. His Stanford pedigree and performance made the memory of mega-star Manning fade away. We still get to deal for this better-than-average crop in 2014. Could Manziel go the way of 2012 No.2, RGIII – over-stimulated?
Dire warnings this season – no more free passes. Not only their size, weight, records, and intellect matters – now their “off-field” behavior is in question. Bad stuff sends them tumbling if at all, to the back of the line. No room left under the rug… Today’s Pro teams don’t want to deal with miscreants and malefactors. Why the growing concern about bad boys feeling their oats? The escalating off-field activities of these ‘kids’ now border on criminal/jail time offenses. Their character follows them.
My formula to address this? Make a video of actual footage of the TV pre-draft analyst’s serious evaluations of “off-field” activities. They emphatically demote miscreants as risky prospects. Teams don’t need social bad boys dragging their tarnished egos into their locker rooms. Send this video to high school and university coaches to convince their pseudo-phenoms that there is a tragic price to pay for arrogant, defiant, often criminal behavior. They could lose more than their dream of ‘playing’ in the NFL.
As the 3-day parade of selections continues on ESPN/NFL/CBS/FOX / et al., these big guys hug everybody in reach, wipe away tears, walk on stage and hug the Commish as though he alone was responsible for their success. The transition is complete. A grungy behemoth is now a swaggering millionaire – a behemoth none the less. No longer going hungry (really?). It truly is a joy to watch these young men realize their dream of being called up to the big show. We have witnessed the
The finale – “With the 256th and final pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected Lonnie Ballentine,” making Ballentine professional football's 2014 “Mr. Irrelevant.” As per tradition, Ballentine will be invited for a week-long Mr. Irrelevant celebration in Newport Beach, California.
And there you have it. My version of the draft. On to training camp, weight rooms, dining halls, play books, anxiety & exhaustion beyond belief -- all for the promised millions of moolah.
Patricia Moloney Dugas, Freelance Reporter