Moment of truth?

I am literally sitting at my desk with the homepages for ESPN and NFL.com on the screen in front of me hitting “refresh”…”refresh”…”refresh”…

This is what it has come to.

30 minutes ago the banner ad on NFL.com read “Player Union tells NFL it plans to decertify.”  No sooner had I texted that to my boss than it changed –  I swear I saw it flip – and I caught the words “pulls back on decertification”…but when I refreshed, it was all gone.

At the moment the banner reads  “Custom Gear: there is no one else like you.  NFLSHOP.com.”

What the heck is going on out there?!

It is fascinating to me that an industry the recession couldn’t do in, couldn’t topple, one that still thrived despite massive unemployment and changes in public spending habits, survived that only to potentially be undone by massive greed.

Similarly, it’s funny that a massive recession didn’t really threaten my job, but an NFL lockout might.  Not so much ha-ha funny though as morbidly ironic.

10 minutes and counting…

nfl-lockout

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Hail to the Chief(s)!

A quick diatribe, if I may:

But first, a word.

Last night’s Chiefs-Chargers game was crazy exciting.  Chiefs win, 21-14.  A year ago, the Chiefs lose this game.  They lost so many frustrating games after leading in 2009.  2010 is looking like a clean slate.  We have 2 clients on the Chiefs defense (who, by the way, were AMAZING last night), and it was so totally worth staying up until 12:30 to see the end of the game.

Begin diatribe.

The 4th quarter BEGAN somewhere around 11:45pm.  11:45pm.  Let me say it again: 11:45pm.  I complain annually about how late World Series games are played but
*news flash to the National Football League*, THIS BEATS ALL.  You chose to start a game at 9:15pm (10:15pm eastern!) on a MONDAY night?!  And a regular season game in September that already carried minimal drama and impact considering it was the FIRST GAME OF THE SEASON?!  For shame.  I’m calling the diva police.  You are totally busted.

(Deep breath.)

Congrats to the Chiefs on a thrilling victory!  May it be the first of many…

How it all went down.

And finally…to the results!

Andrew Brewer

No, neither of our clients was drafted.  Huge bummer.  Both had a bit of an injury history that affected their stock in various ways (but may I add both are now 100% healthy!)  Regardless, the draft is money and teams can get gun-shy pretty easily.

But on a good note, Brew will be heading to Patriots minicamp this week to show them what’s up and hopefully earn himself a contract, and Kurtis was snapped up by the Carolina Panthers.  Kurtis received a great signing  bonus for an undrafted free agent and there’s definitely room for argument on their depth chart so it should be a really good opportunity for him.  Kurtis was a bit down from not being drafted but he rebounded quickly, sending my boss the following text:

“The Food Network says the best coconut cream pie is in North Carolina!”

You lose some, you win some.

Kurtis Gregory

Why we watch the draft (a.k.a. “where 16 hours of my weekend went”)

You got it, we watch the entire draft.

We get together at my boss’s house so that we can split screen ESPN and NFL Network plus have our laptops and cell phones all plugged in around one table.  His dining room is our own little Masterplan war room.  Our new addition, NFL/NBA agent Michael Wozniak, drove down from Grand Rapids to be with us Saturday as well.

Both of this year’s clients were late-round projections, but the early rounds still matter for a number of reasons.

1.  One of the main things I do throughout the draft is update depth charts. We print off each team’s depth chart going into the draft and then I write the picks in as they happen. This is in case of the hoped-against possibility that our clients go undrafted. An undrafted player who is still a good prospect will typically have a number of teams trying to sign him as a free agent.

Here is where having a good agent is worth its salt.

Some teams really want to give these undrafted players a shot at making the roster, but some teams just want a few more bodies for their “chosen” guys to beat up on in camp. For instance, in Kurtis’ case, if a team calls after the draft but they already have 4 guys on the depth chart at his position and they just drafted 3 more…chances are not good that they are really going to give him a look. But for a team that needed another OG but maybe didn’t draft one because of more pressing needs at other positions, to them signing Kurtis would be a steal – getting a quality player at a need position without having to use a draft pick on him.

2.  We watch for competition picks.  For instance, the Chiefs drafted a CB in the 2nd round.  We represent one of the Chiefs’ starting CBs, Brandon Carr, so I immediately texted my boss to ask what that was all about.  In this case it should be fine – there is a huge size difference between Javier Arenas (the pick) and Brandon (Brandon is by far the larger, and fast for a big corner).  Plus, Arenas is supposedly more of a return guy (kick or punt returner).  Disaster averted.

However…we also represent recently released Jags DT Rob Meier, who spent last season on Injured Reserve.  We had thought there was potential for the Jags to re-sign him after the draft, but with their first four picks Jacksonville took 3 defensive ends and 1 defensive tackle.  Doesn’t mean there’s zero chance, but that’s not quite what we were hoping for.

Extra Point:  My favorite moment of Saturday was when Michael asked my boss’s middle son, Tristan, what grade he was in.

Tristan:  “I’m in first grade.  I’m very smart, and I play baseball and football.”

I smell a future draft pick.

Friday night with da Bears.

There is nothing specific for me to do work-wise in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the draft except pay attention and hope, so  I figured I could pay attention just as well from Soldier Field as from my living room.

I could totally get used to being down here.

I was wrong.

A friend of mind had tickets to the Bears’ annual draft party.  Even though we had a blast, the Bears treated the draft itself like a red-headed stepchild, relegating it to small TVs plus one big projection in the corner with the sound off. Instead, we were subjected to a revolving door of personnel, coaches, and players who fielded questions about potential prospects.  Granted, the Bears didn’t have a pick until the 3rd round, but shushing the draft on the draft’s day seemed a tad harsh.  

Even though it would look really great in my cubicle...

Anyhoo, there was tons of food which was great, plus they let us walk onto the field.  Soldier Field is such a pleasant place when there aren’t 50,000 people trying to shove past you to the bathroom!

They also gave us a tour of the locker room where several lockers were stocked neatly with jerseys and pads. The place smelled impeccably fresh. It had all the makings of a sham, so I sent Nick a picture of his locker to find out if the Bears had bothered enough with the details that this was his actual jersey.

Nick’s response?  “Yes ma’am it is – don’t steal it either, cause I’m gonna need that!”

For the record, I most likely would not have stolen it anyway.

Draft-o-rama!

Rip off another day on your paper chain – we are seven short days away from the 2010 NFL Draft!

Are you completely saturated with all the  “expert” draft analyses and mock drafts on every sports-related website and tv show?  Because I am.  Let’s be honest – Kiper and McShay ranking which players each of the 32 NFL teams will draft with their top pick is like trivia night at your local pub.  They do their homework on players, they assess team needs, and they make educated guesses.

Roger Goodell:  “Ndamukong Suh stands at 6’4″ 300 lbs and excels in athleticism, hand strength, quickness, burst, versatility, and potential.  He will be drafted by what NFL team?”

Kiper:  The Lions!

McShay:  The Rams!

Goodell:  Ohhh, I’m sorry.  The answer we were looking for is “Browns.”  Browns.  From the great city of Cleveland.

We at home (anyone who does NOT work in an NFL team’s front office should be considered “we at home”) can research and ponder and make some solid arguments in favor of our own mock drafts, but in the end we have neither any say nor any idea what an NFL team will choose to do come draft day.  And all this fuss mainly deals with the first 1 or 2 rounds.  There are 7 rounds, people!  (And these include compensatory picks!  But let’s not even go there.)  Televising the NFL draft is nothing short of a blatant abuse of television power that only makes you happy if you work in football.

For us it makes sense to watch 11+ hours of draft programming since we are A.  hoping our clients get drafted, and B.  hoping teams where we currently have clients don’t draft high at their same position.  But for you?  Well how much information have you read about mid-to-late round draft picks?  Our job basically begins after you guys stop watching.  More than likely we do not have any clients who will go in the first round and will instead be chosen somewhere thereafter…anywhere thereafter.  By draft weekend the work is done – by our clients, by the teams, by us – and all we can do is sit and stare at the tv and wait.

…but if you yourself are not a football player or player’s family member, don’t work in football or aren’t closely associated with someone who does, then you should probably be bitter at ESPN for using so much air time on something you probably won’t watch, the way I feel when anyone airs car racing.  NASCAR:  a thousand laps of cars going nowhere fast.