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Draft Dodger (04/22/05) --
This article also appears at FargoFan.com

This weekend ESPN will have over seven hours of live draft coverage, giving NFL fans up-to-the-second information to salivate over. The problem is that within that seven hour time span, the “action” consists of Paul Tagliabue reciting a sentence from a card followed by some guy coming up and holding up a jersey for pictures. The rest of the up-to-the-second coverage consists of reading the scrolling draft ticker 9,483,273 times; watching the cast of “experts” pander to ESPN monarch, King Chris Berman I; and listening to Chris Mortensen speculate on the possibility of the Raiders and Lions swapping fifth round picks.

Somebody stop the merry-go-round of excitement because I want to get off.

Or better yet, I’m not getting on in the first place. While mildly interested to see what players will go where in the first round, I have a much higher self-respect level than to sit and watch what is essentially the NFL Personnel Department review applicants and decide which potential new employee has the right “vision” or “make-up” for the organization. Similarly, I’m not going to go to Merrill Lynch and watch them make hiring decisions on new accountants, although it would probably make for equally good television.

Last night I was at a friend's house watching two people struggle with a castle on Super Mario World. I made the comment that "A man's worth can accurately be judged solely on his Nintendo playing skills" which is something I still stand behind. Unfortunately, this makes me a worthless man.

After about an hour and seventy lives, I was throwing shoes, hats, cans, and expressing my best spontaneous frustrations and still not getting anywhere. I fought and fought, in the middle of which I somehow lost my pants, and still never knocked the bitch at the end off the floating platform. It all climaxed when I ripped the cartridge from the system and expressed my SNES displeasure by soaking the memory chip on Super Bases Loaded and jamming it into the machine. Boy, was I hung over this morning. Screw you, Mario.
The really sad part about this is that there is obviously a big market for this kind of “entertainment.” Draft parties pop up at sports bars all the time and sports talk shows light up with call-in “experts” who couldn’t name a single school in the WAC but yet know exactly which collegiate defensive end his team needs to draft. I shouldn’t be surprised. This is, after all, the same league that pulled off the completely mind-blowing move of televising the Houston Texans’ expansion draft, but sometimes it takes a while to fully digest absurd viewing behavior like this.

No matter how hard the announcers yell at you, no matter how big the headline is in your special draft guide, no matter how profusely Berman sweats when lamenting the number one overall pick, the fact is that nobody really has a clue. Really, they don’t. Don’t tune in and expect to be talked into who is going to be the next Hall-of-Famer for your team and most of all, don’t pretend like you know either. Have an opinion on what player to take, this is your duty as a fan after all, but be discreet about it. To assume that you, I, or Joe Theismann have any idea as to who is going to be a true difference maker in the NFL is a pretty big waste of time. If you don’t agree or can’t understand what I’m saying, call Curtis Enis, Ryan Leaf, or Akili Smith. I’m sure they can help you out.

I’m thinking that what they should do is instead of showing this year’s draft, they should replay the draft from five years ago. In 2005 we watch the 2000 draft, in 2006 we watch 2001’s, etc. This way when the announcements get made, Mel Kiper can come on and give us actual NFL information like, “This is a great pick for the Patriots in the sixth round as Tom Brady has produced three Super Bowls” or “The Minnesota Vikings have selected Demetrius Underwood who led the NFL his rookie season in personalities and Prozac refills.”

For many people around the country, the weather has finally turned nice and liberated the population from its icy grip. The golf courses are open again; take advantage of it. Your family loves you; spend time with them. There is a tree in the park; admire its bark. Just go do something that doesn’t involve ESPN and their handsomely paid carnival fortune tellers yelling useless information at you.

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