SBD/May 8, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Later NFL Draft Date Being Criticized, Could Negatively Impact New Players

A May draft means two more weeks of players living on borrowed money
The NFL in moving the draft "probably thought a two-week delay would only heighten the hype, build the buzz, and enhance the suspense,” but it has had the “opposite effect,” according to Christopher Gasper of the BOSTON GLOBE. It has been “dragged out in the name of NFL excess” and “created an NFL dead zone.” It "feels like a football filibuster, as the emergency brake got pulled on the offseason." The "paradox of the NFL’s decision to push the draft back to May is that most of the changes that have been made to the draft format since 2008 have been designed to expedite the proceedings." Meanwhile, the "overmining of the draft for exposure could get worse," as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has "floated the idea of expanding the draft to four days." The NFL is "acting like a self-absorbed selfie sharer who thinks even the mundane activities it is engaged in should be of utmost interest to the masses" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/8). Goodell, asked about reaction to the later date, said, "I think everyone's anxious for it. Everyone wants it to happen, most particularly, our teams. ... I think fans in general are ready for it . ... There's been a clock that everyone's used to and change is difficult for people" ("The Rich Eisen Draft Special," NFL Network, 5/6).

OUT OF PLACE: ESPN's Bill Polian said, "Heaven help us" if the NFL pushes back the NFL Draft another week next year. Polian: "To add three more weeks to it would really be pushing the envelope from a football standpoint, and I'm not sure that it's worth whatever the marketing advantage would be." He added, “The Draft, when it was at the end of April, fell in the perfect niche. The Kentucky Derby was a week away. The Final Four was over. The hockey and basketball playoffs had not begun in earnest, and baseball was just beginning. So the Draft had its own little spot there, where it took up all of the oxygen in the sports world.” Polian: “Now, the Kentucky Derby has already been won, and we're talking about a potential Triple Crown winner, the playoffs are really heating up and the series are great. Baseball is on in earnest and now we've got the Draft. It seems to me as though it's out of sync" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/7).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: The MMQB's Peter King said, "By the time (the drafted players) get to their teams it'll be four-and-a-half months since the end of the regular season and only three-and-a-half months to opening day of next season. The draft was never meant ... to be this late." King said there is "no reason for the draft to be past the middle of April." King: "The league has to stop thinking about hype and TV ratings and more about the reality of football" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 5/6). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kevin Clark writes the extra time is "making teams dumber." Bills GM Doug Whaley: "We're tired of thinking about it. Banging our heads against the wall." This year, many teams have "discovered that relentless overthinking has crept in and damaged their ability to properly evaluate players." Chargers GM Tom Telesco: "You have to be careful that you don't stare at the board for too long" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/8). 

NOT THE RIGHT MOVE: THE MMQB's Robert Klemko writes under the header, "Holding The NFL Draft In May Is A Bust." The league "cherishes its traditional late April draft date no more than it cherishes extra revenue, and pushing the draft back keeps the NFL relevant and the money flowing during a time when America would otherwise be focused on the NBA and NHL playoffs." A May draft "amplifies viewership for the league’s media outlets and partners who cover the draft with a longer run-up." But with the draft "currently being held the week rookie minicamps would have begun, first-year players don’t have the same amount of time to prepare for training camp." NFL player agent Steve Caric: "That's the biggest problem. These guys should have playbooks in hand already." Klemko notes while some agents "worry about their players’ on-field chances, others worry about what they’re getting into off the field." A May draft means "two more weeks of living on borrowed money." Caric said, "I've heard about guys -- not mine -- taking out more money in these last two weeks" (MMQB.SI.com, 5/8). In DC, Deron Snyder writes keeping the draft in May "expands the NFL calendar" and the league "wants to stretch itself to the snapping point" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/8). But ESPN's Israel Gutierrez  said, "I don't think it makes any difference. All it does is sort of extend everything, makes poor Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have to work even harder and redo their drafts all over again." ESPN's Pablo Torre: "You can put it on whatever time you want and people will be obsessed with it" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/6). 

BACK IN MY DAY...: In Detroit, Mitch Albom writes the buildup "is out of control." The drafts "used to take place, minus camera, in a single day -- not stretched over a ridiculous two nights and a Saturday." Albom: "And guess what? The results were EXACTLY THE SAME! Teams drafted new players" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/8). In N.Y., Ken Belson writes once a "sleepy roll call for football insiders that took place in smoke-filled hotel ballrooms, the draft has turned into the highlight of the league’s increasingly cluttered off-season." It is a "marketing machine that feeds the seemingly insatiable desire for information about the nation’s most popular sport." Two networks and "more than 1,000 members of the news media will cover this year’s event at Radio City Music Hall, which amounts to a beauty contest rolled into a high-stakes lottery" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/8).
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