More hot air than draft
By Tim Keown
Page 2 columnist

Nothing in the sporting universe quite compares to the NFL draft -- excuse me, the NFL capital-D Draft -- when it comes to overload and overhype. If any of the pointy-headed professor types want to stroke their beards and examine the role of sports in society, they should pay attention this weekend.

Carson Palmer
So, you're going with the Heisman winner? As always, pure genius.
It's mind-boggling to realize that entire lives are devoted to this exercise in speculation. Draftniks put out newsletters and updates. They slave over the 40 times of 315-pound 21-year-olds to determine which ones will be better suited to pass-block the 285-pound 21-year-old on the other side of the line. God, it's rich. If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it.

It's unlike anything in sports, because the baseball draft is considered irrelevant and the NBA draft has been contracted so much it resembles a fashion runway more than a talent dispersal.

And the true beauty of it is ... it means almost nothing. Nothing. Entire lives are devoted to projecting what happens over the next two days, and when the season rolls around, almost none of the choices will have a significant impact on the course of the NFL season. Three years from now, sure, these guys could be pivotal every Sunday afternoon, but right now they're a bunch of cornerbacks waiting to be burned, offensive tackles waiting to be beaten and linebackers waiting to be duped by the basic counter.

The draft is pure fantasy league, and that's exactly why it has become so popular. You and your buddy down the street can guess as well as the GM of the Saints or the Chiefs or, God knows, the Bengals. So gather round, Jets fans, and boo to your heart's content.

Besides, it's great to know there's still one weekend a year when we are all reminded that it's Mel Kiper's world, and we just live in it.

This Week's List

  • Never thought I'd say this, but: Good for Carl Everett on his decision to press charges against the nut job who hit him with the cell phone.
  • Brian Sabean strikes again: Russ Ortiz (2-2, 4.40); Damian Moss (4-0, 2.35).
  • With Miguel Tejada leading the majors in errors and hitting a buck-sixty, once again it's time to ask the question: Can someone tell us again the brilliant strategy A's owner Steve Schott was employing when he chose spring training to tell the world he wasn't going to sign Tejada after this season?
  • Live and late-breaking: On Thursday a New York sports columnist gave us an update on the Jets' decision to bypass Dan Marino in the draft 20 years ago.
  • Which, when you think about it, provides further credence to one of life's rock-solid pieces of advice: Sometimes you just need to get the hell over it.
  • Now that it's the playoffs, NBA referees are happy to provide you with a reminder of the most pointless call in sports: The double technical.
  • Say what you want about the Lakers' inefficiencies, but remember this: The Wolves, they're playing some serious defense.
  • Important sociological question: When George Karl gets all serious and apoplectic, why does he always look like Bill Murray?
  • It happens every year and nobody can ever explain it or define it, but damned if it ain't happening again: The Bucks, victims of conspiracy.
  • And if those effing ball girls don't get their acts together, they can expect a little something coming their way, too: Phillies batboy Andrew Deffley, a 19-year-old college student who probably should know better, was booed all night at the Vet on Wednesday night after he faked tossing a bat into the stands in the early innings.
  • Just for the heck of it: Joe Hassett.
  • Obviously, this was the hawk's not-so-subtle way of letting everyone know he had money on Niles West: During a high school baseball game between Niles North and Niles West in suburban Minneapolis the other day, a hawk flying overhead dropped a dead rabbit that landed on the foot of one of Niles North's coaches.
  • The whole concept is so stupid it's funny, and for some reason this is the funniest of them all: Tariq Aziz, the eight of spades.
  • If you root for players and their stories first, and teams second, then save a little room in your heart for this guy: Troy Hudson.
  • If he keeps up his current rate of eye-bagging, he'll look like Marty Feldman within two years: Flip Saunders.
  • Which, of course, raises an important question: How far out of the mainstream do you have to be in 2003 to actually understand a Marty Feldman reference?
  • Whatever problems the Lakers are having can be cured with one simple act: Throw it in to Shaq.
  • And finally, he does this right after he closes his eyes and prays a decade for a new arm and a night off next time he plays the Marlins: Mike Piazza told Playboy he confesses to a priest after he has sex with his girlfriend.
  • Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at



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