What a waste

The recently concluded JaMarcus Russell saga with the Oakland Raiders backs up just how stupid all the hype that surrounds the NFL draft is.

This is what happens when unproven players – and aren’t all college players who enter the NFL unproven? – are given tens of millions of dollars to play in a league in which they’ve never played a down. From what I remember three years ago leading up to the draft was that Russell’s stock was growing because he played well in a bowl game and scored high at the NFL Scouting Combine. In other words, he was at the top of everyone’s must-have list because he had one good game on national TV and that he was impressive while throwing without a pass rush to uncovered receivers in a dome in Indianapolis. He was drafted No. 1 by the Raiders, held out and got a guaranteed $40 million contract. For what? Because he had a strong arm? Russell’s final numbers: 7 wins, 18 touchdown passes, 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles, enough money to feed an entire continent. What a complete waste. The Raiders are idiots for throwing all that money at a question mark. Just like the Rams will be when they shower Sam Bradford, who will probably also hold out, with a bazillion dollars. And instead of bringing Bradford along slowly, they’ll rush him into the starting lineup because, hey, you don’t want $60 mill sitting on the bench, right? If I was an NFL owner, I wouldn’t want the first pick in the draft. The players – or rather their agents – hold all cards. If you don’t shell out eight figures, they’ll stay home. And very few come up with a proper return, and if they don’t play well or get hurt, they get the same money. Long gone are the days of: here you go, son; here’s your uniform, your playbook, your rookie contract. If you play well, we’ll see about a raise in a few years. When late April comes around, I’m always dumfounded as to why there’s so much excitement surrounding the NFL draft. I’ll never – EVER – understand it. All it is is a guy in a suit announcing names for a league that doesn’t begin its season for another four months, drafting players who aren’t likely to make an impact for 2-3 years. But, for some reason, some fans enjoy sitting in front of a TV for hours while nothing happens. And what does Mel Kuiper Jr. know about football anyway? Apparently not much if you saw his mock draft this year. And until players stop getting enormous amounts of money before ever stepping on an NFL field, there will be more JaMarcus Russells; players who aren’t as good as advertised, who walk away rich for all the pointless hype heaped in their direction.


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May 2010
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