Hugs all around
I'm on the clock.
Thursday, 8 p.m. -- Welcome to the first round of the NFL draft, where newly-minted millionaires don custom $2,000 suits, $800 Italian shoes, $300 silk ties and then have ugly $35 baseball hats slapped on their haircuts.
Let the awkwardness begin ...
8:02 p.m. -- This is the first year the NFL won't allow TV networks to spoil the drama by revealing picks before they're announced. So how does the 2012 draft start? With two picks known to everybody from Bakersfield to Bangladesh: QBs Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) and Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins). It has all the drama of a reading from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.
8:14 -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is really firing off the blocks on his hugs tonight. He is holding these guys inordinately long, too, as though his suit is made of Velcro. With hundreds of former players suing the NFL, maybe he needs to be held?
8:30 -- For the first time, there's a machine behind the stage that instantly irons on the players' names on the backs of the jerseys. So players hold up jerseys with their names on them. Television commentators are treating it like the discovery of the polio vaccine. Twitter legend Darren Rovell of CNBC even posts a picture of the thing. Haven't they been doing this in Lids stores for years?
8:32 -- The Jacksonville Jaguars move up to take the best receiver in the draft, Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State. Blackmon can catch, block and run. He seems excited to be going to Jacksonville. Guess he can act, too.
8:38 -- Now Dallas is moving up. That's four teams moving up in the first six picks. We have more people moving up than the Jeffersons. The Cowboys use the pick to steal Morris Claiborne, the killer corner from LSU. True, Claiborne's Wonderlic score was reportedly 4 out of a possible 50, a score you can get just by drawing race cars on the test, but how many questions do you need to get right to play corner? True or false: You should stay on your man like shorts on a Hooters waitress. True. Get out there.
8:41 -- With Claiborne going to Dallas, it's the first time in NFL history that the first six picks are early entrants from college. Let the outrage over three-and-out begin.
8:49 -- The draft really doesn't start until somebody completely botches their pick and we have it -- Miami taking Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill at No. 8. To find a bigger stretch you'd need Procrustes' bed. The kid has started only 19 games. Playing against his three toughest opponents this past season -- Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State? He threw nine picks. Sleep well, Matt Moore.
8:53 -- This draft is wonderful if you love men's jewelry. Apparently, it is The Year of the Very Large Glittery Watch. You could read the time on these things from Newark. These guys are not on the clock. The clock is on them.
9:01 -- Honestly, what is Goodell whispering into players' ears in these the-hostages-finally-released-you hugs he's giving? "I am not letting go until you swear you won't sue. Do you swear? Do you?!?"
9:04 -- In an attempt to retain hold of the bottom of the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs take Memphis DT Dontari Poe, who should be as scary to Chiefs fans as Edgar Allen. Poe wasn't even first team in his conference. And the conference was Conference USA. Good luck with that.
9:10 -- The draft is held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, which means it's full of rowdy and drunk Jets and Giants and Rangers fans, which means they're going to boo everybody. They would boo if you drafted one of the Apostles. It's getting old. So, genius idea Mr. Goodell, why not take the draft to different cities every year, like the Super Bowl? It would make the draft even more of a spectacle, an NFL specialty. And yes, you could bring the stupid fabric iron.
9:18 -- The Arizona Cardinals take silky Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, which must make St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford throw his remote through a plate-glass window. They ranked 30th in passing yards last season and gave up more sacks than Kroger's. At one time, the Rams had the second pick in this draft and now they've traded out of the first round. Like Tom Brady, Sam, you may have to actually throw and catch the ball, too.
9:29 -- OK, somewhere even Bela Karolyi is going, "Enough hugging, Roger. Stop."
It's a brassy move from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Then again, this is a man who goes into South Central L.A. at midnight on Saturdays to talk to gang bangers about their future. He can more than handle any troubles Bruce Irvin might have.
Immediately, the Seahawks get out a speaker phone and put Irvin on it. Asked why he changed his first name from B.J. to Bruce, Irvin said, "Because B.J. was the one getting in trouble."
Think we're going to like this kid.
9:55 -- Goodell does a slap/shake with South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram that includes five rapid-fire hand slaps -- forward, backward, forward, forward forward -- then giant man hug. Gotta be the coolest commish ever.
10:14 -- Cleveland makes 28-year, 195-day-old Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden the oldest drafted player in the Common Draft era. As a rookie, he'll be older than 46 of his Browns teammates. Me? I like him because he voted for Eisenhower.
10:20 -- The New England Patriots do what everybody didn't expect them to do -- trade up, not down. Bill Belichick comes away with two stud front-seven defensive players -- Syracuse DE Chandler Jones and Bama LB Dont'a Hightower. Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner for Round 1.
10:53 -- If the NFL really wants to keep the drama in the draft, it needs to ban Adam Schefter from Twitter. He and his infernal BlackBerry tell you the picks five minutes before they're announced. It's like going to a movie with someone who's constantly whispering, "He's not in the closet. He's laying in the bathtub!"
11:06 -- And with the world champion New York Giants taking a scatback in Virginia Tech's David Wilson, we're done. It's the shortest first round since 1967. Took only 3 hours and 1 minute. I have seen Charles Barkley take longer than that on a par 5.
Overall, in those three hours, we went through eight trades, four QBs, nine SEC players, four Alabama players, four Diet Cokes, two Fudgesicles and some leftover spaghetti.
Winners on the night: the Patriots and Minnesota Vikings. The Vikes got three extra picks simply for dropping from No. 3 to No. 4, got the tackle they wanted anyway and Notre Dame S Harrison Smith to boot.
Losers on the night: Everybody who wasted weeks writing or reading mock drafts. Picks 2 through 7 were teams that moved up or down into their spots, which left your draft sheet with more scratches than a cat veterinarian.
Anyway, congratulations to all 32 players. Need you at work Monday morning at 8 a.m.
(With all those watches, you better not be late.)
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Pacers clutch late, even series against Heat
- Rogers, openly gay, to join Galaxy of MLS
- Reports: Neymar to join Barcelona
- Mauer only Twin with hit off Tigers' Sanchez