I’m talking to you, NFL. We’ve had our differences in the past, and we’ve had our highlights. We’ve been through some good times and we’ve been through some bad times.
Remember when you pretended like you were going to keep that lockout going long enough to miss games but we all kind of knew that even you’re not dumb enough for that?
Or how about that time you slowly changed the rules so that teams are scoring significantly more than they were even two years ago? And how about how things will only get worse because, by putting defensive players at a disadvantage, no kid will ever want to play defense?
And remember that time you pretended like you cared about player safety but really entertained the notion of adding games to the schedule? And somehow you continued to make more and more money? Are we idiots? Probably, yes. But the worst thing that you did, NFL, was take the most sacred offseason holiday – the day that ranked up there with the Fourth of July, Memorial Day weekend and Flag Day – and move it away from the weekend and into prime time.
Moving the draft away from Saturday was and is a tragedy. If you’ve read this column in the past, you know that I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t judge the draft on draft day because it won’t reveal its value for quite some time afterward.
I believe this in large part because I don’t want to let the NFL win and I have taken a personal stand against the Thursday night draft. Simply put, I won’t watch the Thursday night part of the draft. I can get my results in real time on the Internet, preferably through Twitter so I can get full snark and analysis that fits into bite-sized morsels, and it saves me from supporting the death of my favorite day of college.
Draft day 2007 was one of the most fun days of my life. I had the good fortune of splitting time between Ohio State’s campus with about ten of my best friends – screaming and cheering at the Joe Thomas pick, having already gotten a full day’s worth of food, playing lawn games, yelling at strangers, chest-bumping for no reason, and just genuinely being dumb – and a friend’s house a few miles way to watch with my brother and a few guys. I think I traveled to the off-campus house between Browns picks and got back to Ohio State before the Brady Quinn pick (hindsight shows that it didn’t pan out, but can you take a moment and remember the unparalleled excitement from that day? It was blissful), which resulted in literal outbursts of song.
I planned a weekend – months in advance – around going to Ohio State for the NFL draft weekend because, well, it was the NFL draft weekend. We would all get up on Sunday, get something to eat, relax while watching the fourth and fifth rounds, and I’d drive back to Ohio University and miss the final round or two. Nearly perfect setup, right? Right.
But now the draft starts on Thursday nights. Yeah, I could go to a bar, dress up in my Browns gear, and probably have some fun by cheering at whomever our the Browns get (and booing whomever the Jets pick). But I know I’ll have to go to work in the morning, and I know the draft will run all weekend and I won’t have to worry about it as a whole for a couple of days yet. And I know that, while some Thursday nights get a little crazy, they don’t offer the same freedom and fun of an all-day Saturday festival of football.
So with that, I continue my boycott of watching the first round of the NFL draft. I’ll be playing video games and constantly refreshing Twitter while the picks come and go. I’ll get three to four texts after the Browns surprise everyone by either trading down and making a weird pick or staying put and making a weird pick (or trading up and making a weird pick!), answer them, and go back to playing video games.