NFL Draft: Seriously?

This blog appears courtesy of Guest Blogger Dave Denicke of Untapped Potential:

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“I want a hamburger. No, I want a cheeseburger. I want a hot dog, a milsha….”
“YOU’LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT!”

The NFL is a lot like Judge Smails’ kid in the beloved classic Caddyshack. A spoiled brat without limits, and as a result a waste of a golden opportunity to succeed. The league has the advantage of being the most popular sport in the United States, not just with devoted team supporters, but also with gamblers and fantasy sports savants. They are the 600 pound gorilla when it comes to sports television, and they know it. The NFL was the first US sport to launch its own cable channel, and its championship event is a ratings mainstay– not just in the US, but around the world– thus commanding ridiculous price tags for potential advertisers. And yet, you get the sense that, despite all of their success, the NFL is not satisfied with their reach, to the point that they are shooting themselves in the foot.

What made the NFL so unique about ten years ago was that the vast majority of the games took place one day out of the week. Sunday might be the Lord’s day, but he’d better wrap that Gospel up before kickoff, because professional football is not to be trifled with. It was a beautiful marriage between sport and fan, as people were able to line up the rest of their week in order to clear their calendar for Sunday afternoons. Kids leagues, home improvement projects and dates– those are all well and good for a Saturday. But Sunday had been the one day a sports fan needed to have to him (or her) self.

However, the NFL has tinkered with spreading the wealth across the week. Monday Night Football was once incredibly successful, which led to late season Saturday games, and then in turn to Thursday games. Soon enough, a sports fan had to keep 4 evenings a week free in order to keep up with the league. This is to say nothing of the impact on fantasy football, where teams have to make player decisions 72 hours before most of the games get underway.

No, the real problem with the NFL is that they got greedy, and in the process, messed with success. And the same holds true for the NFL Draft. The draft technically used to last two days, but realistically, the first two rounds are where most of the action takes place. By the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, teams are taking more flyers than a lonely man on the Las Vegas Strip.

So rather than consolidate the action, and make it easier for the sports fan to digest, the NFL has gone in the opposite direction, and stretched it over four days. The NFL Draft will now last longer than the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Of course, the intrinsic problem with the draft is that the first round takes waaaaay too long. Teams have 15 minutes to make a pick? These are businesses that have spent the past four months (if not longer) pouring over statistical data, scouting reports and interviews, all to select, on average, seven employees. Do they really need 15 minutes? Try taking half that long at your fantasy draft this fall, and tell me how that goes over. Five minutes. This gives teams enough time to look at their draft board, make a call, and hand in a card to the commissioner. Done and done. This isn’t medical research, its a middle linebacker from Alabama.

In sum, NFL–don’t sell yourself short. You’re a tremendous slouch.

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