Unleashing the Ultimate Power of the NFL Draft

nfldraftprep2013The NFL Draft is an annual ratings bonanza consuming all of its competition like some sort of flesh eating rotavirus. However, just because the draft is an incredibly popular made for tv event doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few things that could be drastically improved ahead of Thursday night’s broadcast.

1. Every team gets their own theme music carefully selected to symbolize and encapsulate the current state of the franchise. For example, the defending Super Bowl champs the Baltimore Ravens would obviously enter to the opening score from ‘Game of Thrones’ while the Cleveland Brown would be serenaded by the soundtrack from The Sting on account of the FBI ransacking owner Jimmy Haslam’s corporate offices.

2. Go back to helmet phones and pieces of paper. Technology these days has made it so that teams don’t even really need to send representatives to NYC which is why the NFL should institute a wireless ban in Radio City, forcing the sort of face to face interaction so lacking in our society today.

3. Network graphics must include number of concussions sustained by each player along with their height/weight/40 yard dash time. This would ensure that fans and teams alike understand the short and long term health care risk they assume by drafting a player.

4.  For one day and one day only Mel Kiper should replace Roger Goodell as NFL commish. Imagine how great it would be if immediately after the draft guru announces a selection he launches directly into his highlight reel breakdown just as the player climbs the stage to shake hands. Great lateral quickness but he must develop his overall aptitude and acumen for understanding the complexities of a pro-style 3-4 defense.

5. All players invited to sit in the green room must ditch their designer suits and be forced to choose between the head to toe spandex from the NFL combine or the Starter jacket/zubaz combo right out of the late ’80/early ’90s.

6. In order to expedite the process picks should be announced 3 at a time and in descending order. This would allow NBA fans to toggle back and forth between the draft and game 3 of the Bulls/Nets series.

7. Ditch Radio City for the outdoor environs of Rockefeller Center with the one catch being that they have to reassemble the ice rink just so we get to watch Suzy Kolber interviewing the top picks while wearing hockey skates.

8. Setup hidden cameras in the private residences of all 32 starting quarterbacks in order to capture March Sanchez’s priceless reaction after the Jets trade up to the #8 spot in order to pick Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib.

view from Radio City courtesy of @richeisen

View My Picks: NFL Week 2

After missing the deadline for week 1, I’m now ready to start up another season of NFL picks. As usual, if your looking for deep insight and meticulous handicapping, this is not your column.

Week 2

Chicago (+5.5) over GREEN BAY

Of course Jay Cutler got pissed when he had to burn a timeout at the goal line because the home Chicago crowd being too loud. This behavior is not the sort of long term solution to help promote loyalty and support from the Windy City faithful. At this point we shouldn’t be expecting anything less from Mr. Sourpuss. (Although, today people are bringing up the fair point that when Cutler reams out an offense lineman he’s acting childish but when Tom Brady spouts off at his o-coordinator he’s being a competitor. Total double standard?)

Tampa Bay (+7.5) over NY GIANTS

Eli Manning and the Giants have a history of winning these games against inferior opponents by 3 points. Factor in Eric LeGrand coming out for the coin toss and you have the recipe for an early season barnburner.

NEW ENGLAND (-13.5) over Arizona

I bet the Patriots wish they had both Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones in uniform last February 5th.

Minnesota (-1.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

How in the name of popular mechanics was Adrian Peterson able to come back and perform so well only 9 months after tearing his ACL to smithereens?

New Orleans (-2.5) over CAROLINA

Sure it’s only week 2 but with the high-powered Falcons and rejuvenated Bucs, this could be the make or break game that determines both teams chances in the NFC South.

Chiefs (+3.5) over BILLS

The only excuse for why Ryan Fitzpatrick performed so poorly week 1 vs Jets is that he was distracted by the emerging cheating scandal at Harvard. If Tarvaris Jackson ever gets a chance to replace Fitzy someone should look into the current state of the political science dept at Alabama State.

Baltimore (+2.5) over PHILADELPHIA

The Ravens looked really good in their week 1 disposing of the Bengals while the Eagles got off to their traditional lackluster start agains the really woeful Cleveland Browns. Not sure why the Iggles are even favored in this game other than for the fact that it is in Philadelphia and rumor has it that Baltimore fans will be asked to show some sort of photo ID in order to enter “the Linc”.

Oakland (-2.5) over MIAMI

How in the world are the Raiders only favored by 2.5? Were Vegas sportsbooks even watching Ryan Tannehill against the Texans? A few more performances like that and the Dolphins are going to move him back to WR.

CINCINNATI (-9.5) over Cleveland

The Browns are not a fun team to watch play football even when Trent Richardson lowers the boom on opposing safeties, knocking their helmet off in the process.

Houston (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE

I once had a football coach who told us that the largest room in the world is the room for improvement. I don’t know what made me think of this other than I have a hard time believing Blaine Gabbert is even a serviceable NFL quarterback.

SEATTLE (+2.5) over DALLAS

Sonics fans will be super energized for this game now that there is a definite possibility of the NBA returning to Puget Sound.

Washington (-2.5) over ST. LOUIS

Besides Sam Bradford, Chris Long, and James Laurinaitas, I can’t name a single player on the Rams. Henry Ellard? Flipper Anderson? Merlin Olson?

NY Jets (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH

I am a subscriber to the theory that this Steelers defense is past its prime. I do however hope this has no bearing on the Pittsburgh Pirates playoff chances. Imagine a postseason that includes both the Baltimore Orioles and Pirates? Your move Kansas City.

SAN DIEGO (-4.5) over Tennessee

I didn’t watch much of Monday night’s Chargers/Raiders game. Check that. I didn’t watch ANY of the Chargers/Raiders game. Can’t imagine I missed all that much except for Berman bloviating about Philip “A Rivers Run Through It”.

SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5) over Detroit

Come for the football, stay for the hardo post game handshake.

DENVER (+2.5) over Atlanta

I still can’t get use to seeing Peyton Manning in a Denver Broncos uniform. He seems so out of place. Like Joe Biden in a diner.

view from Lambeau Field courtesy of @shawnie_rae

 

 

 

Fantasy Island Failure

(Editor’s Note: the following is my failed attempt to become one of 10 fantasy football writers for Grantland. I thought I had a pretty good chance of moving on to the next round and was therefore entirely devastated to find out that not only did I not make the grade but also failed to receive some sort of conciliatory message from ESPN. Congrats to the chosen few. May your 2012 fantasy season(s) be full of peace, joy, and Phillip Rivers.)

“Don’t Forget To Tip Your Waitress”

There’s this diner I like to frequent that serves the best breakfast food on the East Coast. On weekend mornings I cozy up to the counter and find myself a comfy stool right next to the chief of police and that weirdo organic yogurt farmer who always smells like the dairy aisle at the local supermarket. I want to ask when the last time he showered was but that might lead to a lengthy discussion on probiotics, which, not surprisingly, should be avoided at all costs.

Lots of my friends who aren’t as familiar with this particular diner as I am ask me about what they should order and I always tell them the same thing that a breakfast is a very personal thing. My favorite items on the menu might not necessarily match up with other peoples’ personal preferences, but that’s ok. A little healthy discourse over food choices can lead to some of the more entertaining, time consuming conversations for folks looking to escape the grind of a 9 to 5. It’s not uncommon at my diner to find a group of patrons arguing over the menu for hours after close. I get the sense that some of these guys are simply looking to avoid heading home to see their families.

In any case, my typical Sunday brunch always starts with a tall cup of coffee (1), usually equipped with an extra shot of espresso to give my weekend morning the kind of kick-start it requires. That’s the thing about this diner brew, the upright packaging is incredibly unorthodox for a premium blend coffee but the more you have the more productive your morning becomes. What was once an underrated diner coffee has now received multiple chamber of commerce awards including a 5 year contract to become the primary coffee of all town rotary functions and bingo nights.

Next comes the hard boiled egg (2), which at my diner is the linchpin to any successful breakfast. One thing I love about this particular item is that the exterior is incredibly hard to crack. You can roll the shell on the counter for a good 25-30 rotations, including a few swing passes to your neighbor and the darn thing will not crack. The greatest fear that all of us who enjoy the hard boiled egg have is that because the diner relies so heavily on this particular item that one day the chickens are going to break down and no longer be able to provide such a reliable compliment to any breakfast, hot or cold.

If you ever visit my diner you have to order the mega-sized plate of hash browns (3) that will have you tiptoeing down the sidewalk. Occasionally this plate full of potatoes comes of the skillet so hot that it burns the accompanying onions which were meant to cover these hash browns but inevitably end up falling shamefully to the ground only to be swept up by the bus boys. Because these hash browns enjoyed such a big year last fall, a lot of customers will urge you to stay away from this dish for fear that they can’t possibly replicate their success this season. Screw it, when you find food as dominant and physically imposing as these hash browns you have to stick with them.

After the hash browns come two eggs, sunny side down (4). I find that the extra shade is good especially when you can’t always count often out of stock orange juice to take some of the heat off the eggs.

I like to top off my ideal meal at the diner with a nice fresh grapefruit (5), which by my count has already won multiple awards including citrus championships in New Orleans, Houston, and Jacksonville. The grapefruit is perhaps the most polarizing item on the menu, drawing praise from the locals and the ire and jealousy of out of towners. These fruits are so prolific that they were once blended with a strand of oranges from Brazil to produce the most beautiful citrus offspring on the planet. If you want to be surprised by the potency of the grapefruit, try a little sugar (S), a new item on the menu that was falling to waste in a warehouse in St. Louis.

So that’s it, my Sunday breakfast at the local diner. It’s your prerogative to agree or disagree with these food choices. In fact, the disagreements are what keep people coming back to the restaurant year after year.

 

A Little Game I Like To Call “NHL Game 7 or NFL Draft?”

Thursday night was a big night in the Big Apple as both game 7 of the Rangers/Senators NHL playoff series and round 1 of the 2012 NFL Draft are set to start at roughly the same time.

On the surface, it might not seem as if there are many similarities between these two major sporting events. However, if you look a little closer I think what you’ll find is that they share much more in common than you would have originally thought.

As I recount the action from both Game 7 and the NFL Draft, see if you can guess which sporting event I’m talking about.

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7:01 – Participants enter the arena on a scuff free red carpet to avoid any dings to their all important footwear.

A – NFL Draft: Since when did the NFL Draft turn into the Grammy’s? The crowd outside of Radio City looks like something you would find at a movie premiere. Looks like a good night to avoid Midtown Manhattan. Meanwhile, head a few blocks down 7th Ave and we’re only minutes away from start of Rangers/Senators game 7. My bandwagon beard hangs in the balance.

7:08 – Attendees are being interviewed before the main event begins. These jocks remain the most humble, honest athletes in all of professional sports.

A – Game 7: Hockey players are such great interviews because of their congenial humility and self deprecating sense of humor. Football players are a close second. Baseball and basketball players lag well behind.

7:13 – Public enemy numero uno serenaded by the fans with the first “ASS-HOLE” chant of the night.

A: Game 7 – Give it an hour and these chants will be directed by Jets fans at NFL Commish Roger Goodell. For now, it seems Chris Neil has a way of bringing out the best in Rangers fans. For all his thuggery and hard nosed play, Neil has also been a difference maker on the offensive end this series. If the Rangers go on to win this series I hope Brian Boyle recovers in time to play against the Capitals.

7:20 – Great energy exhibited by all parties involved.

A – Game 7: First break in the hockey action reminds me of what an exhausting competition the playoffs are to watch on television. They barely even give you enough time to go to the bathroom. Speaking of energy or lack thereof, Bill Belichick was just interviewed on NFL Net and he looked like he was being held captive in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan. For all we know he could have been discussing the terms of a hostage release instead of what the  Patriots are planning on doing with their two first round draft picks .

7:46 – Former star now fashion icon takes center stage.

A – NFL Draft: As much as I love Ron Duguay’s flair for the dramatic, no former professional athlete turned talking head sets the trends quite like Deion Sanders. Speaking of Prime Time, I’m surprised he was able to keep his composure during the telecast what with all the current commotion in his life.

8:07 -Here is one rookie who is guaranteed to make an immediate impact.

A – Game 7: Nothing against top pick Andrew Luck who, according to most pigskins soothsayers has all the requisite “measurables”, but the first year player generating the most buzz tonight is Rangers rookie forward Chris Kreider. And remember, it was only a few weeks ago that Kreider was still popping pimples in his Chestnut Hill dormitory. Second period has also just gotten under way and we’re still knotted up at double goose eggs.

8:10 – A young man in blue takes one giant step closer to Washington DC.

A – Game 7: Marc Stahl puts the Rangers on the board first with a nice looking one timer past Anderson. Meanwhile, RGIII to the Redskins is now official. Have to respect Griffin for his popsicle inspired blue raspberry sport coat.

8:26 – Commentator just referred to a player as a “pocket rocket”.

A – NFL Draft: No, this was not Sam Rosen referring to Maurice Richard. Mike Mayock apparently has nicknames for all players involved in the draft. “Pocket Rocket” refers to Baylor WR Kendall Wright who must now spend the majority of his rookie season in the NFL fighting to regain some measure of street cred.

8:36 – Nepotism on full display in the owners box.

A – NFL Draft: Was that Jerry Jones grandson lurking in the background of the Cowboys war room? Also, who thought it was a good idea to put cameras in these NFL team conference centers?  Might as well be showing us video from the main ballroom of the Radisson in Humboldt, Texas.  Of course Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett had a shit eating grin on his face after Dallas traded up to #6 for LSU corner Morris Claiborne. Back to MSG, Rangers maintain 2-1 lead after nice looking goal by the Senators Daniel Alfredsson.

9:00 -Some sporting events are just easier to follow on twitter.

A – NFL Draft: One of the more startling, albeit not that surprising, trends from the 2012 draft was that twitter consistently scooped the television broadcast. Most picks were announced in 140 characters or less nearly 5 minutes before Roger Goodell sauntered to the podium. Still doesn’t change the fact that the NFL Draft will draw a much higher television rating in NYC than the hockey. Football is king after all.

2-1 Rangers early in the 3rd but the action is starting to heat up. Chris Neil continues to finish his checks while back in Radio City some guy named Dontari Poe nearly makes out with Goodell.

9:24 – ACCESS DENIED!!!!!

A – Game 7: Hank is coming up huuuuge for New York. Anticipating the puck beautifully and denying Senators on the doorstep. 5 minutes remain and this one is coming down to the final whistle. Speaking of access denied, upon being drafted #13 by the Arizona Cardinals Michael Floyd takes a call on his mobile. I thought the NFL banned cell phones in the green room?

9:35 – Extended handshakes and hugs lead to a delay in post game programming.

A – NFL Draft: While it’s true that there is nothing in sports more honorable and authentic than the post NHL playoff series handshake, things are really getting out of control in Radio City. On average I would guess that each draft pick has taken approximately 5-10 minutes to hug and gyrate with every member of their constituency. At this rate the 2nd and 3rd round will take place simultaneously.

Up next for the Rangers are Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Should be a fun series. My bandwagon beard rejoices!

view from MSG courtesy of @alanhahn