NFL Draft rewards losers while punishing winners
Stop. Please. There is still time to do things right.
The National Football League will host its annual draft night Thursday at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. This event is a marathon that ends on Saturday. But if you want to do it, well, at least do it right.
The NFL held its first draft on February 8, 1936 when representatives of the then nine franchises met in Philadelphia at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. If you’re wondering why they picked the RC, well, it was owned by relatives of then-NFL commissioner Bert Bell.
A total of 81 players were selected in nine rounds. And if you’re wondering — I’ll save you some time — Heisman’s first-ever winner, University of Chicago’s Jay Berwanger, was the first player to enter an NFL Draft. The Eagles selected the halfback but traded his rights with the Bears.
And from 1936 to today – including this year’s version – the process is completely wrong.
The logic of the repechage is to stock the weaker teams and create a balance in the competition. But, in our country – and in all sports – we reward the winner. So why does the team that wins the Super Bowl get the last pick in the draft, and the team with the worst record picks first? I just don’t make sense.
Let’s take a look at the last five Super Bowl winners: the Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots. Each of these teams has one thing in common — besides a world championship — they were forced to pick last in the NFL Draft.
A reward, huh?
And those teams that were dazzling failures – well, all they did was get rewarded with the first pick. The last five winners who were really losers: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars; Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals; Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals; Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns; and Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns.
Is it fair for a top college prospect to enter the NFL with a loser? Maybe the thought process is that it can make the team competitive – see Joe Burrow.
Our company rewards the winners. Even children receive trophies for the competition, but the National Football League chooses to ignore the success.
And suppose the league works with the idea of rewarding the winners and allowing the champion to pick first. This country has always loved dynasties – remember the Boston Celtics of the 60s, the New York Yankees, the Montreal Canadiens. And if fans don’t love Dynasties, well, they love to hate Dynasties.
If you don’t believe me, check out what the Colorado Rockies did. They increased the price of their tickets for different opponents. When the Yankees came to Denver several years ago, they charged a premium for their tickets. People love to hate the Yankees.
As for the NFL and its backwards drafting process, well, things haven’t been smooth sailing lately. Trevor Lawrence and his Jacksonville club were a trash fire, and their coach Urban Meyer received a copy of the home game.
Kyler Murray and his Cardinals crumbled after Halloween, Baker Mayfield has one foot out in Cleveland, and teammate Myles Garrett, who was selected first in the 2017 draft by Texas A&M, watched the playoffs on TV with the rest of us.
Joe Burrow, the 2020 No. 1 pick, took the Bengals to the Super Bowl last season.
Hey, maybe the system isn’t broken after all.
Andy Furman is a member of the Enquirer Contributors Committee. He also speaks sports nationally on Fox Sports Radio, is public relations coordinator for The Point/Arc in Northern Kentucky, and writes for the Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle.