Creating the Future of Football Through the NFL Draft
I’ve been fascinated by the National Football League and National Basketball Association player drafts for a long time. A fun part of my job during 21 years (1987-2008) as a reference librarian at USA TODAY was researching articles for the Sports section, including those on the drafts. This year’s NFL draft was held last week, and the media coverage was the most intense ever, especially from national outlets like USA TODAY and ESPN, which broadcast the draft live, in prime time.
As expected, the first two picks were quarterbacks: Stanford’s Andrew Luck, chosen by the Indianapolis Colts, followed by Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, to the Washington Redskins. But the draft, even with intense scouting, interviewing and statistical research, is not an exact science. Success at quarterback is particularly difficult to predict, as shown in a 2008 article in The New Yorker by Malcolm Gladwell, Most Likely to Succeed: How do we hire when we can’t tell who’s right for the job? Lots of high-round draft choices fizzle, while low-round choices end up becoming superstars. The most famous of those cases in recent years has been New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who wasn’t chosen until the 6th round of the 2000 draft. For an enlightening look at low-round picks who made it big, check out the NFL.com photo essay Best late-round NFL draft steals since merger.
Brady and the other draft “steals” illuminate something important that reflects much of the interest in this big-money business exercise. Teams, players and fans are given a sense of hope – if only for a short time – that the future will be better than the past. Or in the case of the top-of-the-standings teams, that their success can be sustained in the future. That sense of hope will be transferred to the basketball world soon. It’s less than two months to June 28th, the date of the NBA draft. More futures (individually and team-wide) are about to be created, for better or worse.