Sunday, 24 April 2011 03:14

Wacky Turns Of The NFL Draft

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The NFL Draft can take some wacky turns.

The NFL will conduct its annual draft, beginning on Thursday, and there will be the usual cheers and catcalls from the Who Dat Nation members. Tourists will walk by 50th and 6th in New York City without even knowing the NFL has taken out a three-day lease on Radio City Music Hall for the annual event, guaranteed to make some of the franchises look smart, but most of them look dumb.


So, if you're looking for advice on the labor dispute that may not spoil your fall/winter, enjoy the draft while greed involving large angry men finds its level after they fight over the $9 billion pacifier that decides when the league next plays football games.

But if you really want to enjoy and understand the draft, you must be able to drop chicken nuggets worth of information at your NFL Draft party.

Here are some nuggets you can use:

In the first  draft in 1936, the Eagles made the University of Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger the first-over-all choice. Two picks later, the Steelers drafted William Shakespeare, if for nothing else, because his name sounded vaguely familiar.

After being traded to the Bears, Berwanger, the 1935 Heisman  Trophy winner, had the audacity to ask George Halas for a two-year, $25,000 contract. When Halas said no, Berwanger took a job  in the foam-rubber business and moonlighted as a sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News. Berwanger and Shakespeare never played pro football, in part, because they could make more money doing other things.

Now, 74 years later, the draft has a little more allure. It has become a year-round obsession for some and providing the backdrop for some strange moments;

The The Duke?

In 1972, NFL Films had its cameras in the Falcons' draft room. When it was time for Atlanta to make its 17th-round pick, head coach Norm Van Brocklin jumped out of his seat and shouted, "Do we want the roughest, toughest S.O.B. in the draft?"

Everyone in the room joined in saying, "Hell, yes!"

Van  Brocklin grabbed the phone and dialed the league office in New York.

"Atlanta picks John Wayne of Fort Apache State," he said.

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle quickly recognized the prank and overruled the Falcons' creative choice.

"The Duke," who played freshman football at USC in the 1920s, was a little past his prime.

For the record, Wayne played a famous college football coach in the 1933 film "Trouble Along the Way," which tanked at the box office.

Van Brocklin was assigned to serve as analyst for CBS for its broadcasts of Saints games in 1967. During one game, he noted that the Saints had a true fan in the end zone because he threw a liquor bottle at an official after a call against the Saints. "You knew he was a real fan because the bottle was half full," said Van Brocklin.

I was in the Saints' "war room" for the 1969 draft, and suggested the Saints should draft quarterback Edd Hargett of Texas A&M because I liked the way he played against LSU. Somebody must have heard me because they drafted Hargett in the 16th round, and he was a backup quarterback for four seasons.

There may not be a draft in 2012 if the owners and players can't agree on a new CBA.

Even though the situation looks bleak, I'm willing to bet that most fans believe everything will eventually work out. That there will be a football season this year and the events of these past months will fade and Week 1 games will be played on schedule.

The players and owners still have to agree to a new deal and we could be back to square one after this season even the lockout has ended. How does that sound?

In the meantime, we can still enjoy the draft and forget about whether or not the NFL will figure this thing out. Well, sure, why not? It's too much of as money-grab to drag on past a regular-season game or two, right?

What should the Saints do with the 24th over-all choice? Their needs -- a pass rusher or maybe an outside linebacker -- are obvious .But the draft being like the fickle dance partner it is, immediate needs vs. future considerations are unpredictable enough that you should never run out and buy a carnation.

For those of you who wants stats and analysis, one can certainly find that on several sites throughout the net. You want high-quality in-depth analysis" does a good job. You want your full range of combine results?  Go no further than want a solid overview, simply take a peek at the draft board on CBS Sportsline. And if you want a whole bunch of information and mock drafts that i believe will be completely useless and largely inaccurate? Rest assured Mel Kiper Jr. is back again for the 667th consecutive year.

It's like a famous pro football freak once said. "If you're going to buy the ticket, you've got to be prepared to take the ride."


by Ed Staton

...(Order your 2011 LSU Schedule T-shirts from Louisiana Sports


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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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