Draft Day. For Real.

Draft Day 2014: Payday for Johnny Manziel

Draft Day 2014: Payday for Johnny Manziel

After months of waiting, countdowns, and millions of mock drafts, Draft Day 2014 was finally upon us. For NFL fans, the draft is like Christmas morning. For three days.

Afterwards, we feel like kids bombarded with new toys. Not sure what we even like yet, we’re just happy to call them ours. Didn’t get what you wanted? Complain to your Santa Claus (aka general manager). But first, read this.

The biggest moment of the draft came just before it ended on Saturday afternoon. With the 249th pick, the St. Louis Rams took Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. We watched on live television as he took the call, was overcome with emotion, and responded (as many players do) by kissing his love. Only, in Sam’s case, his love is a man.


Michael Sam celebrates his draft pick by the St. Louis Rams

Minutes later, they smeared cake on each other’s faces and kissed again. So, let’s just say Michael Sam didn’t walk quietly through that door. He went blazing through it. If he approaches his professional career with the same gusto, this guy could be the first openly gay Hall of Famer. And he’ll have many people cheering for him along the way.

Credit to Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams, who didn’t take Sam because he’s gay. They took him because he’s a good football player and he deserved to be drafted as such.

Of course, someone had to be a jackass. And leave it to someone from the Miami Dolphins locker room to do it. Cornerback Don Jones tweeted “OMG” and “horrible” after the scene played out. Now, I’m not about to tell you what you should and shouldn’t be comfortable watching. But, if you play in the NFL, don’t be stupid enough to tweet it out. Could someone please get a hold of that team? Someone not named Joe Philbin?

It pales by comparison, but the second most dramatic moment of the draft was on Thursday night. We watched as Johnny Manziel became this year’s Geno Smith. Passed over again and again, he was finally taken by the Cleveland Browns at number 22. It was painful and awkward watching him sweat it out, but as a new member of the most tragic franchise in the history of sports, it was also good practice. Browns fans are hoping “Johnny Football” can change their fate. And if management is too, they could have shown it by finding him someone to throw to.

The Browns lost their two best wide receivers, Josh Gordon and Nate Burleson prior to the start of the draft. Gordon is facing a year-long suspension for failing a second drug test. And Burleson re-broke his arm (this time a pizza was not involved). But, if the Browns aren’t worried…we shouldn’t be either. Ha!

There were no cameras and no celebratory make out sessions with Katherine Webb (much to the disappointment of Brent Musburger), but Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron had to wait much longer than his frenemy, Johnny Manziel to be drafted. The 164th pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, McCarron will now have to unseat Andy Dalton (who is in the last year of his contract) for the starting job. McCarron has one thing on Dalton, he has proven he can win big games. But proving himself to his new team will be another matter. Putting the wedding and online reality show on hold and focusing on the playbook would be a good start.

I would be embarrassed to tell you how many times I googled Jimmy Garoppolo’s name this weekend. Mostly for the spelling, but also because he was easily the most attractive pick in the 2014 draft. Garoppolo looks like Tom Brady and Tim Tebow had a baby. And if that offends you, well…you should probably go play for the Dolphins.

New Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo

New Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from Eastern Illinois

I do have some awards to give out for the 2014 NFL Draft:

Best dressed goes to Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, chosen by the Green Bay Packers at number 21. And in a smashing crimson and black tuxedo. I suggest he invest in some flannel shirts and khakis before he heads up to the mistake on the lake. Oh, wait…that’s Cleveland. But Ha Ha should still get some flannel. And camo. Or, trade outfits with my next award winner.

Best Dressed: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S-Alabama)

Best Dressed: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S-Alabama)

Worst dressed goes to former Jacksonville Jaguars center, Brad Meester, who announced the team’s second-round pick wearing a camouflage tux. It was horrifying. And downright offensive. Made even worse, by its return appearance a few picks later when the team traded up for another receiver. I’m not sure what you hunt in a tuxedo, but I’m sure it’s not the Lombardi Trophy.

Worst Dressed: Brad Meester (former C-Jaguars)

Worst Dressed: Brad Meester (former C-Jacksonville)

And last but not least (literally), shout out to the AFC South for its flat-out dominance in picking Mr. Irrelevant. The conference has owned the last pick of the draft, thanks to the Colts and Texans, since 2011. At least the AFC South can dominate something.

I could go on for days, just like coverage of the NFL Draft. But instead of comparing quarterbacks to cars and players/general managers to horny college kids courting each other (ala ESPN’s Trent Dilfer), I will exit before you start daydreaming about escorting me out.

But before I go, I have some advice to the players. To Michael Sam, to Johnny Manziel, to A.J. McCarron, and to all the players in the 2014 NFL Draft: Just make it about football now. Let your game speak for itself.

As for the rest of us, now…we wait. For New Year’s. Or, the start of the new NFL season. While some stat-crazed lunatics go from mocking the draft to predicting the records of each newly formed team.

Me…I’m going to get a jump start on my New Year’s resolutions. Before the start of the new season.

Resolution number one, to avoid the preseason media hype and judge these teams and this draft class when it’s appropriate to do so. Which is, six games in for the teams and three years from now for the picks. And you can thank Bill Polian for that.

Happy New Year!



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