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Confessions of a Draft geek

Apr 29, 2012 -- 10:20pm

By DOBIE MAXWELL
Special to ESPN Wisconsin

As much as I hate to admit it, the NFL is brilliant. Those of us who follow it closely eventually become hooked for life - and that’s exactly how they want it. We can’t get enough. We attend in person or watch on TV each and every one of their games religiously – even the ones in summer that mean Dick Bupkus. Do we get a discount, even 10%? Nope. Tickets are FULL price, baby.

Not only that, we proudly wear the colors of each of our individual teams of choice on jerseys, jackets, caps and even underwear. In Wisconsin where I come from, Saturday night is when our best Packer-phernalia gets showcased. Some even wear it in church. The NFL wants our souls.

And if a long hard season isn’t enough, there’s the weekend in April that lets our geek flags fly that’s known as the NFL Draft. What perfect timing. Just when our Super Bowl fix is just about faded, along comes a weekend when each of our teams stockpiles a new crew for a new season.

AND WE WATCH IT ON TV. How crazy is that? Do they show the casting process of movies on HBO? Of course not. No sane person cares. The people behind the scenes pick the actors, and we buy tickets to see the final product. That’s it. Not the NFL. They hook us a whole lot deeper.

I admit I love watching the NFL Draft on TV. So do a lot of other morons apparently, as it gets bigger every year. It used to be just the first two rounds on one night. Now, it’s a whole weekend affair. Pretty soon they’ll be selling the DVD, and if the Packers do well I just might buy one too.

What a perfect scam this is. Everyone who watches the draft who’s a fan of any team gets their hopes up that the guy their team takes is the next Red Grange. Sure, he’s a tenth year sophomore backup punter from Division 1ZZZ diesel truck driving school, but Mel Kiper says he’s a stud.

And admit it, who wouldn’t want to be in Mel Kiper’s shoes? Not that anyone can even prove he’s wearing any shoes. We’ve never seen his feet. He could be in a wheel chair for all we know or care. All anyone has ever seen him from is the nipples up, but he can spout on about guys we know nothing about and pretend he knows what he’s talking about. Draft ‘expert’? Who knows?

That’s got to be the sweetest gig in all of sports, if not all of life. Other than the door man at the Playboy mansion, who wouldn’t want to have Mel Kiper Jr.’s gig? But what about Mel Kiper Sr? Has anyone ever heard from that guy? Was he a draft ‘expert’ too, or was he a traveling plumber who was gone all the time and didn’t spend time with little Melvin but now he wishes he did?

Everyone who ever played any kind of neighborhood sports knows how a draft situation works. We all had to stand in a line, and two ‘captains’ flipped a coin and started choosing the best kids. The coin flip winner got first pick, then the loser got to pick the next two. That’s how it worked.

We’re all used to that formula, so the NFL stumbled on to something great when they decided to put it on TV. Every fat forty something loser still thinks they’re going to hear their name read out loud by the Commissioner on draft day. I know I still do, and that’s why I watch every year.

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