You know what’s Crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy
NFL Draft 2020.
AMERICA YOU’RE ON THE CLOCK!
Virtual and Unusual.
Unique and necessary.
In a Corona Virus world, sports is a visual wasteland. It’s a story no longer being told.
Athletes are home, stadiums are empty, sports is an echo chamber in the vacuum of space.
Hockey cancelled. NBA done. Baseball? Never even got out of Spring Training.
The NFL may have to shutter its season too, but for now, it’s business almost as usual.
And in late April, that means the NFL draft.
It’s an American Institution.
And the NFL didn’t blink.
It was suppose to be Live in Vegas?
Social Distancing made that impossible.
So the sports league went virtual.
It reinvented the moment, making it possible and perfectly imperfect.
The commissioner stood in his basement and said, Cincinnati, you’re on the Damn Clock.
And bam, it was weird and wonderful and a four hour vacation from the pandemic of pain, anguish and disillusionment.
ON THE CLOCK!
Never were three more beautiful words spoken.
ON THE CLOCK.
3 BEAUTIFUL WORDS analogous to I LOVE YOU for football fans.
While the world rolled up the sidewalks and wiped itself down with Clorox, the preeminent sports league in America went all in.
With the first pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Bengals pick, Joe Burrow.
It was a beautiful note struck for a world needing a harmonic moment.
The Washington Redskins, THE PICK IS IN.
Hello Chase Young.
And so it went. Team after team. City after City.
It unfolded as it always has, and like it never has.
Sports fans sat on their living room couches and watched players and coaches and GM’s sit on their living room couches and do something that is truly unique.
Something completely UNPRECEDENTED.
They conducted an NFL draft incorporating hundreds of virtual feeds and an overloaded internet.
We were flies on the wall of a moment in time, watching young men learn their futures as it unfolded in real time.
What a welcome respite from this dire menagerie of boredom and fear.
We are living in a virus world where repeats of Pro Rodeo and 10 year old NBA championship games pass as sports programming.
America Needs Sports.
It’s a distraction from the normal beat down of life.
2020 is unstable, like greased roller skates on a marble floor.
Our barometer of good is NOW judged by how many people didn’t die today.
What might have been considered apocalyptic and frightening are just the new normal.
The wind blowing debris down an empty street in Manhattan is no longer unusual.
Seeing people on that same street is now weird.
Shoppers wearing masks in a super market without food is no longer strange.
Birthday Parties celebrated behind glass by people honking car horns is now celebrated as heroic.
It’s a world spinning off its axis.
Netflix stock is soaring because people need to be entertained.
Human filth like Joe Exotic and his heinous Tiger abuse is the number one story on TV.
Humans are depraved and always have been.
When given the chance, we will lower our common denominators to debauchery and insidiousness.
The Lion King is a prime example. It’s the modern day representation of the Romans crucifying the Christians using lions in a blood sport made for TV event.
It’s nothing new. It’s just repackaged insanity.
And now a pandemic fuels the mix.
Humans are still humans. We want what we want. We need what we need.
And yes, people want to be entertained.
Sports filled that void.
But now, there are no sports to cheer for.
That was until April 23rd 2020.
That’s the night the NFL did what no other sports league would dare do.
It conducted the draft.
It was weird and wonderful. It was unprecedented and bizare.
Was it good? I’ll say.
The 2020 NFL draft was Courvoisier and your woman looking at you with bedroom eyes.
The NBA tries to mimic the NFL draft. But it doesn’t even come close. The basketball rebirth of each team does have a televised lottery special. But it lasts an hour. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld. Once the first round concludes, America disengages, and goes back to not caring. In the end, like Seinfeld, it’s a lot to do about nothing.
Baseball is a witness protection program of draft futures. There are so many levels of minor league play from Peoria to Idaho Falls, that it’s not even worth considering.
Hockey? Need I say more.
The NFL is royalty. It sits atop it’s sports throne as the Knights of the collegiate round table join a pantheon of modern warriors who will risk life and limb to play a full speed game of brutal theater.
The NFL draft is the beginning of a long off season, after the Superbowl and before OTA’s where fans can once again dream.
The draft to most fans is your dog greeting you at the door after a hard day of work, wagging his tail, and smiling at you as if you are the human incarnation of a T Bone Steak.
The NFL draft is like a crazy circus.
It’s a three ring menagerie of goat faced mutants and chain saw juggling behemoths.
It’s an army of lights, cameras, journalists, crowds and pontificators.
The draft is where is 300 pound monsters juicing on creotin and sausages punch a million dollar time clock.
The draft is where teenagers who often live in blue collar desperation cash in on a world class forty times.
The draft is man children waking up to a new life where they can buy their momma a 5 bedroom house.
The draft is where every team gathers to drink from the fountain of youth.
The draft is where perennial dogs like the Detroit Lions, The Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets come to lap up the possibility of a superbowl season based on hope.
Hope really does spring eternal.
And in the NFL that hope is tied to vertical leap, hand size, forty yard dash times.
If the NFL is the king of sports in America, then the NFL draft is the coronation of the future.
In the past, dozens of young football princes, dressed in lime green three piece suits and gold chains arrived at Radio City Music Hall and waited at tables in the wings, hoping for their names to be called, sooner rather than later.
When their name was announced to the breathless world of fans and sycophants, they rose with teary eyes and hugged their mommas and then donned the hat of the team that would catapult them into a new beginning.
2020 was suppose to unveil itself in sin city, Las Vegas.
But 2020 is the year of the Corona Virus.
Even Las Vegas, the city without clocks, shut down.
The world is still spinning, but life has pumped the brakes.
The NFL could have easily cancelled the 2020 draft.
Everything else has cancelled. Why Not?
But the NFL is its own world.
Rather than cancel, it adapted and re-invented itself.
“Virtual and unusual and exciting” the carnival huxter decried from the hallowed halls of the world wide web.
And at 7pm CST, there I saw the spectacle that I so wanted to see.
Was it all that different than last year?
Yes and No.
The venue was a thousand living rooms broadcast across a bandwith of technology.
But the tv screen was in the same living room I sat in the year before.
The excitement and hope I felt in 2020 was identical to the hope for the Dallas Cowboys I felt in 2019.
And suddenly, there was Joe Burrow wearing a 740 area code t shirt with his mom and dad.
His blue collar living room exposed for all to see. He is the soon to be anointed first round pick, the new prince of the premiere league in the country.
He is not dressed to the 9’s. He is not sitting at a big table with his glamorous girlfriend and rich agent.
In 2020, the new lion king of the NFL looks like any other young kid on a Thursday night, hanging out, eating hot wings with his folks.
He is the hope of an entire City, but on this night, he looks less like hope and more like normal.
And then there’s Tua, with the unpronounceable last name. The injured QB from Alabama. He is wearing a 3 piece suit, seated in Alabaster, Alabama, with his tight knit family.
He is dressing the part in this virtual coronation.
The NFL has a million cameras documenting every square foot of this event.
We get multiple glimpses into coaches homes and war rooms. We see their kids mugging for their cameras. I like it. It’s like our homes. It’s normal. Nobody is wearing a mask.
Some homes are less normal, unless you’re a billionaire. And then Jerry Jones on his magnificent yacht is normal.
The NFL is king and it is good to be the king.
And then the ringmaster of the main event, Roger Goodell, stood before the camera, interacting with internet fans booing him from his basement man cave.
Before the circus began, he thanked the thousands of selfless 1st responders who are laying it all on the line to treat the sick and dying.
The message was powerful and meaningful and like the NFL draft, necessary.
And as each team proceeded to be ON THE CLOCK, we watched a menagerie of bad skype signals and constant miscommunications.
The pick is in. The pick is not in.
IS THE PICK IN?
ESPN WAS GUESSING ALL NIGHT LONG.
In the end, the picks were made, and the visual was a sight for sore eyes.
Covid 19 has robbed us of our lives.
Some people have died.
Most others are just prisoners to this pandemic.
The Draft in an odd way is the inoculation of hope that we all need.
Will these new millionaire gladiators wage conflict for Cincinnati and Cleveland in 2020? Will the stadiums be empty? Virtual?
Ask Corona, who knows?
But for one night in April, when I needed hope and a distraction from the pandemic, the NFL virtual draft supplied it.
America, you’re on the clock.