I had a few nice days watching the NFL Draft. Both the Giants and Jets did quite well, I think. Not many exciting skill players drafted for either team, admittedly, but they both picked up building blocks to fortify their offensive lines, which I think is key. Games are won and lost in the trenches. Of course, even though the talking heads have all been busy “grading” each team’s picks, no one will really know anything for a year or two. The history of the draft is littered with sexy “can’t miss” college stars who totally flamed out in the NFL. See Vernon Gholston, Blair Thomas, Eric Flowers. The list is long. So… proof, meet pudding, let’s wait and see. But I am hopeful.
What was really fascinating this year was the format. Instead of thousands of screaming fans gathered together in New York City or Chicago or (as planned this year) Las Vegas, and the draftees parading up on stage to get a hug from the commissioner and a jersey, the NFL went virtual. But that was fascinating in its own way. We got to see the homes of the coaches, players, and talking heads, from Kliff Kingsbury’s palatial digs to the commish in his basement man cave to the very modest apartments of some of the young men being drafted, we got to see their families, their pets, the pictures on their walls…
… and their bookcases. For whatever reason, a lot of the commentators sat in front of bookcases. I could not help peering at the titles on their shelves, being a writer and all. Alas, I failed to spot any copies of my own books on anyone’s shelves. But Marshall Faulk seems to be a big fan of Harlan Coben, and on other shelves I spotted Edgar Allen Poe and Philip Roth. A lot of football books too. Many ex-players and coaches had ONLY football books visible behind them. Which still trumped the guys who owned bookcases, but (seemingly) no books. Just pictures, trophies, footballs.
I hear that next year, if COVID-19 is no longer a factor, the NFL may combine elements of this year’s draft with the traditional format. That would be cool. This was the most viewed draft in history. Maybe because the country is desperate for SOMETHING sport-ish to watch.
I was impressed at how well the virtual draft worked. Very few technical glitches… though the time lapses were noticeable from time to time, as commentators waited to make sure the previous speaker had finished. This bodes well for the forthcoming virtual worldcon, I think… hope… pray. It proved it can be done. Of course, ESPN and the NFL channel have considerably more resources and expertise than fandom, but still…
It still remains to be seen whether we will actually have an NFL season this year. Which puts me in mind of a story I wrote back in 1971, called “The Last Super Bowl.” Eventually it saw print in GALLERY magazine, surrounded by naked Girls Next Door (none of them actually lived next door to me, I should hasten to add). Computer sports were still a dream back then (PONG would not appear in my local bar for several more years), but they were coming, so I donned my prognosticator’s hat and predicted that by the far future year of 2014 computerized football would have become so much more exciting than the real thing that actual football would go extinct.
Well, that didn’t happen. Turns out we were wrong about the flying cars, the household robots, the cities on the moon, and a whole lot of other things as well. Never mind about that, though.
Maybe this is the year that my predictions come true. If the virus does not relent, and we have to cancel the 2020 NFL season… why not go with an ALL VIRTUAL season instead? We know who is on each team, we know who they drafted, we can MADDENify the entire league and play out the schedule week-by-week on television, with SFX and animation. MADDEN has the player stats. The actual coaches can sit by their own computers and call the plays and the defenses. The play-by-play announcer and the color guy can sit by their screens and do the commentary, just as if they were talking about a real game. And we can all watch our favorite (virtual) teams.
Hey, the networks need something to televise, after all. And all us hopeless football addicts need something to watch, besides reruns of SuperBowls past. And maybe, if we go all computer, the Jets will finally get back to the SuperBowl. I wrote “The Last Super Bowl” only two years after their last (and only) appearance, as it happens… and I put them in that bowl, against the Green Bay Packers.
Current Mood: mischievous