Dave, Steven (lame friend who also came from Cleveland who will not be mentioned unless absolutely necessary), and I are up at 5AM to go to the draft.
We take a train into the city, bringing a copy of ESPN the Magazine which had an article about Larry Fitzgerald. The review of him says "he can flat out play." That's the common cliché for guys with not-so-great workout numbers, who are productive on the field. Guys who workout well who never produced on the field are "guys with upside".
We catch a cab to get to the draft, and the cab in front of us is trying to cause an accident. Then Dave (with the line of the day) says to the cab driver "that guy is all over the place, you on the other hand can flat-out drive." Dave then points out that the check engine light is on. The driver says that 70% of the cabs in NYC have that problem. We're told that they disconnect and then reconnect the battery 15 minutes before the cars are checked and they pass inspection. I feel really safe now.
Now comes the part where the NFL proves that they are an evil organization that doesn't care about its fans.
The three of us have been attending the draft every year since the Browns returned. Tickets have always been given out sometime after nine and fans are let in a little after eleven. Just to be sure I went on the league website on Thursday verified that nothing had changed.
So, we arrive at the draft at 7:40AM. About two minutes later it is announced that there are no more tickets to be given out and that we should all go home.
People try to find out what's going on and the police quickly draw their nightsticks. Here is a tip from your fan commentator: when an NYPD officer has his nightstick out, it's a sign that you should just leave, no matter how right you are.
How does the NFL randomly decide to change its policy for distributing tickets without telling anyone? Knowing full well that there are many diehard fans from all over country for this event, you would think they would not do stuff like this? Apprentice reject Omarosa could have done a better job running this event.
Screwed over by the whims of ESPN and the NFL, we stumble over to the ESPNZONE. Lets make sure you understand this: Steve and I drove 500 miles to watch the draft on TV.
ESPNZONE doesn't open until 11, so we have another three hour line to stand in. We are standing with a bunch of fans that are also angry about not getting into the draft and, as a bonus, have been drinking since 5:30 AM. This is not a good scene.
The arguing begins early. There is a Giants fan who insists on taunting an Eagles fan for wearing a James Thrash jersey. "How did you wake up this morning go to your closet and decide that wearing a James Thrash jersey is a good idea."
Meanwhile another New Yorker insists on yelling "Matsui!" to every Asian-American who passes by. He tried to get the rest of us into this activity.
"Come on guys when a Chinese guy walks by we call him Matsui"
I informed him that Matsui is Japanese. He doesn't respond.
The line now descends into a construction site with the guys whistling at any attractive woman that walks by. One man starts to worry that these guys would be a bad influence on his kids. This is the same guy who an hour earlier asked me if I had a cigarette and indicated he was willing to offer marijuana in trade. Somehow it doesn't add up.
At the end of this brief descent into Hell, we get into the restaurant at 1130 and the countdown begins.
Fans at the ESPNZone are all convinced that Eli Manning is the devil incarnate, offering tidbits of wisdom like: "If someone offered me $15 million, blah blah blah" No matter where you are in life there is someone else who thinks you're a whiner for trying to make the situation better.
Manning just didn't want to play for Marty. Unless Marty was willing to put a clause into the contract which said "the coach will never run the prevent defense, make himself offensive coordinator, or hand the ball to a fumbler in a critical situation," I can't blame him.
Quite frankly, no matter where you are in life there is someone behind you that thinks you are a whiner. If you went to Harvard Law School and someone offered you a job in a city you don't want to go to and you said no, there will be some guy who would say "well if someone offered me that money blah blah blah… "
In my opinion, if you're not in that position you can't understand.
ESPN announces the Giants have a trade in place to draft Rivers at #4. Larry Fitzgerald goes to the Cardinals who take over 10 minutes to announce the pick, even though they knew in January who they would take.
The 4th comes up and the Giants take Rivers. The Giants fans in the room explode. Manning went from devil to savior in about 30 seconds. Then they find out what the Giants gave up and they fall back into their seats.
Around this time, the Miller Lite Girls start wandering around the floor. There are beautiful women in tight white shirts and sweat pants that have "Good Call" written on the backside. I can't make this up. From this point forward "GOOD CALL!" is the phrase of the day.
The Redskins pull the first surprise of the day by taking Sean Taylor over Winslow.
The Lions are on the clock. ESPN says that the Browns have been trying to trade up all morning. The whole week leading up to the draft I was convinced Butch wouldn't be able to make a trade. He valued picks too much to ever give them up and even if he wanted to part with a pick I had no confidence in Butch's ability to close a deal.
With 5 minutes on the clock, however, a Browns helmet suddenly appears indicating that our Dawgs are on the clock. A trade was made - but - we don't know what we gave up.
Then it was announced that the Browns took Winslow. Praise the lord! An impact player! A receiver who can catch!
Well not really pandemonium but the three of us started high-fiving each other.
We then find out we gave up our second round pick to move up one spot, and the high fives turn into slumping despondency in our chairs. Why did we give up so much for one spot? Where will out OL come from?!
In our minds, Butch is now like the guy who just bought a $55,000 Hummer H2 for $85,000. It's a great car but he did overpay. But when you think about it, it's not a bad move. Butch wastes draft picks anyway.
Sure, the value board indicates that the second round pick is worth 375 points, but with Butch drafting its more like 50. His three first round picks are Warren, Green, and Faine. His three second round picks are Morgan, Davis, and Thompson. Wouldn't you package any two of those for Winslow?
Since we aren't at the draft itself (did I mention the people running the draft should burn in hell) and have no second round pick to wait for, we decide its time to go.
On the way back, Steve asks if we would still go to the draft after we win the Super Bowl and are picking last. I said "Sure we will, the trip will be a lot easier since we'll just hop in our flying cars and head over"
We get back to Dave's place and play with his twins, then go out to dinner with him and his wife. At this point we heard a lot details about the birth of the twins. Now to any women who are reading this: If I marry you and we have kids let me just say sorry right now.
Browns deal back into the second round and get the second best safety named Sean. Davis has now finally eschewed the long-held strategy of all having a lot of mediocre players in the name of depth. Of course now we don't have a third round pick, but that's ok since none of his third round picks turn out to be starters anyway. I guess he looked at the roster and said "well we already have 15 linebackers under contract so lets not draft one this year"
Day two of the draft dawns, and we are all thinking Nat Dorsey has to be the common-sense pick. After all, he's a second-round-level OT prospect. Will Poole is still there and would be a best-player-available pick ala Lee Suggs last year. So now Dave, Steve, and I are in agreement that Dorsey or Poole should be our pick.
Poole goes to the Dolphins, so now we are unanimous that Dorsey is the guy. The pick is up and it's….Luke McCown.
Steve now, of course, does his patented flip-flop. "Well we weren't going to get a starting LT in the 4th round so it's good we got the QB of the future." This is why Steve has been kept out of most of this column - he does flip-flops like this all the time.
Two years ago he didn't know who William Green was but at the end of draft day he was convinced that William Green was the next Jim Brown, and bet that he would run for a 1,000 yards as a rookie. Just for the record he still hasn't paid up.
He later explained he has enough misery in his life he needs to have some hope.
I hate to break it to him that Butch is not the guy to have your hopes invested in. I was hoping we would walk away from the draft with either Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen or Bowling Green's Josh Harris. With Lorenzen we would have a lefty, which would partially make up for the fact that we have no LT, plus at 290 pounds he can absorb some of the inevitable pounding. With Harris he would have had the distinction of being the only player drafted to stay in his own state and play for a lesser coach.
At this point, its just time to leave since I have a long drive back.
Now, I drive through Pennsylvania again. I must say they did a decent job on the clean-up but they missed the first 60 miles of I-80. I guess they ran out of time.
This drive I am aiming to get through the whole state without stopping. Here is a tip to make it through PA without stopping: You need a full gas tank and an empty bladder. Fill up one and empty the other just before crossing the border.
My quest to make it through the state without stopping fell 15 miles short. I almost made it! If only the tank had one more gallon!
So lets wrap this up:
- I drove 500 miles each way to watch the draft on TV
- The NFL is an evil organization.
- Pennsylvania sucks.
- The Browns had too many needs going in to try and address all of them in one draft, so we got two impact players at the top of draft.
I am excited about Winslow, he may be such a good prospect that even Butch Davis can't screw it up. Let's grade this draft a B. Impact players at the top of the draft is more than you can ask for out of this administration. But at least we have laid the foundation for the era beyond Butch, which can't get here fast enough.
Did I mention I don't like Butch?