NFL Draft: Because no other sport is football

Wikimedia Commons/Marianne O'Leary

NEW YORK, May 5, 2014 — The first five days of May have featured many sports and leisure activities. Through no fault of their own, they all deserve short shrift.

Discussing the Kentucky Derby seems pointless given that Jadavean Clowney did not participate.

Five different NBA playoff series went to the deciding seventh game. Brooklyn won their series by one point at the buzzer. Further discussion is not necessary given that Johnny Manziel was not involved.

The NHL also saw several series go the distance. The Rangers and Kings won their game seven contests, with Minnesota needing overtime to win their series on the road. Any elaboration can be skipped since Sammy Watkins was not playing.

Baseball is somewhere between 30 and 60 games into their approximately 8 billion game season. Blake Bortles has made zero of those starts.

The White House Correspondents Dinner featured people telling jokes. Teddy Bridgewater was not in attendance. There was televised bull riding that did not feature Khalil Mack. NASCAR featured a crash at Talladega. Jake Matthews was not injured. Floyd Mayweather, Jr, won a boxing match. Greg Robinson did not hit anybody.

None of these afterthoughts are the NFL Draft. All of these undercards are mere warm ups to the 2014 National Football League Draft.

Football is the king of all sports, and the NFL is the king of all kings. Everything else is time-filler. Other sports have illusions of grandeur. The NFL is an obsession.

On Thursday night, May 8, 2014, a man in a suit and necktie will walk to a podium. Commissioner Roger Goodell will utter the words at New York’s Radio City Music Hall that will send the crowd into a frenzy, “The Houston Texans are on the clock.”

Leatherheads will then obsess as 32 sets of owners, presidents, general managers, and coaches begin wheeling and dealing.

Defensive end Jadavean Clowney, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, offensive tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews, and quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel will either be the faces of their franchises for a decade or all-time busts. This is before getting to quarterbacks A.J. McCarron, Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger.

To understand the power of the NFL, look at the Draft. For three nights, the NFL will televise something involving a sport that is not even an actual game. In every other sport, the Draft is what takes place on elementary school playgrounds across the globe.

“Ok, Timmy, you stand here. You are on the red team. Billy, you stand over there. You are blue. Bobby, go stand by the green marker. Joey, you are on the yellow team. I am thinking of a number between one and ten. Ok, Timmy, you guessed closest. You pick first for the red team.”

In the 1970s, the idea of televising the entire NFL Draft would have been insane. In 1979, the idea was pure ESPN.

For 362 days per year, nobody knows what His Royal Hairness Mel Kiper Jr. actually does. For three days, Kiper and his pompadour are royalty. With help from Chris “the Swami” Berman and others, the NFL leads what is a three day talk-a-thon. Most of the time is spent speculating on what will happen next. That speculation is briefly interrupted with a few seconds of news on which team has picked which player.

This is not even an actual game, but it is still football. There is no close second. Several days ago the NFL released the 2014 schedule. After the draft comes minicamp, the next step before August pre-season and the September Thursday night kickoff of the 2014 regular season.

There is nothing like the NFL. Nothing even comes close. The weekend between the schedule release and the Draft allowed people to focus on horses, men on skates, guys dribbling, and men sitting in a dugout chewing tobacco while spitting and scratching.

Now comes King Pigskin, lord of the gridiron. The rest is just filler. Now comes serious business.

The Houston Texans are on the clock. Time for some football. Time for the 2014 NFL Draft.

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