SBD/April 27, 2012/Franchises

Colts, Redskins, Dolphins Look To Draft Picks To Re-energize Fan Base

(l to r) Trent Richardson, Griffin, Luck and Justin Blackmon go in top five
As expected, the Colts selected QB Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL Draft and the team’s “new era is underway -- officially,” according to Mike Chappell of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. The team added the “most important piece in its sweeping, ongoing renovation.” Asked about his message for Colts fans, Luck said, "Hope for the best. I'll come in, work hard. ... I feel so grateful to be able to represent the city and be part of the team." Luck on Friday night is “scheduled to be the featured guest at the Colts draft party at Lucas Oil Stadium” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/27). Luck, on his potential marketability: “You want to earn it as a player before you reap all the benefits. Try to do things that fit your personality, do things that are obviously in good taste as well. It’s a fun part of being an athlete that you can have endorsement deals” (“Squawk on the Street,” CNBC, 4/26). Luck appeared on CBS’ “Late Night” last night and said he spent his early childhood in London and Germany as his father, current WVU AD Oliver Luck, was working for NFL Europe “which is now defunct.” Letterman: “Nice job, dad” (“Late Show,” CBS, 4/26).

GAIN IN CAPITOL: The Redskins selected QB Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick and in DC, Jason Reid writes after “more than a decade’s worth of head-scratching personnel moves, silly fantasy-football roster management and self-inflicted public relations disasters -- all against a backdrop of also-ran seasons -- [Redskins Owner Daniel] Snyder may have finally found the type of game-changer he needs to restore the District’s most popular sports franchise.” If Griffin “wins big in Washington, his performance will transform the public image of Snyder from meddlesome tyrant to gutsy leader” (WASHINGTON POST, 4/27). Also in DC, Rich Campbell writes Griffin “instantly becomes the franchise’s biggest star and the face of the organization” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/27). The WASHINGTON TIMES’ Mike DeFabo writes under the header, “Fans Hope RG3 Pick Alters Course Of Franchise” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 4/27).

GONE FISHING: In Miami, David Neal writes for the “first time in 29 years, the Dolphins placed their biggest bet in the craps game that is the NFL Draft on a quarterback,” selecting QB Ryan Tannehill with the No. 8 pick. Tannehill is the “first quarterback the Dolphins have used a first-round pick on since they chose future Hall of Famer Dan Marino.” But Tannehill said, “I don’t think there’s any pressure or anything like that from that connection (to Marino)” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/27). In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde notes the team has “tried 16 different quarterbacks since age caught that '83 draft pick, Dan Marino,” and it “finally did what odds show is the best way to find one” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27). Also in Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis notes the “hundreds of supporters jammed into the fan party Thursday at Sun Life Stadium sounded a loud cheer” when the Tannehill pick was announced. There were “some boos and a few emphatic gestures of dissent," but the “prevailing feeling seemed to be that the Dolphins made the right call, for a change.” With ticket sales “dwindling and disenchantment growing, the franchise is clearly feeling the heat.” The choice of Tannehill “can be viewed as the safe pick,” particularly amid “several reports that it was the one favored by” team Owner Stephen Ross (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27). Ross said of Tannehill, “I mean that was a player that we wanted and it’s really exciting. I mean I’m thrilled. I’ve always said that we really needed to be strong at the quarterback position and I think now that’s one of the strengths of our team.” He added, “I don’t know if that energizes the fan base. What’s going to energize the fan base is winning. And I’m looking to build a winning team because you know energizing a fan base only lasts a very short period of time. We’re talking about winning in the long haul and being consistent and building the team that’s going to be around for a long time” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 4/27). The SUN-SENTINEL’s Izzy Gould writes Tannehill’s task now is to “help lead the Dolphins out of the darkest period in franchise history including three straight losing seasons.” Team GM Jeff Ireland said, "I didn't take him with the eighth pick in the draft to be a backup quarterback" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 4/27). But in Miami, Armando Salguero writes “not every Dolphins fan is happy the Dolphins picked Tannehill.” The reaction has "already been mixed with the lukewarm response coming from people who wanted a ready-made star in exchange for such a high pick” (MIAMI HERALD, 4/27).
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