|There's only one person who can drag my husband away from football forecasting. There's only one person who can convince him to turn off the satellite feeds and put some cartoons on the big-screen TV. And there's only one person who can sweet talk him into a summer swim in the wading pool.
That person is our 6-year-old daughter, Lauren. She gets a very different version of Mel Kiper Jr. than the draft guru seen by national television audiences. It's funny -- everyone thinks that Mel's obsessed with football, but in his personal life he's not like that at all. Life revolves around our daughter. When we're all together, football is not at all part of what we do.
Unless, of course, Lauren wants to throw the ball around the back yard.
That's not to say that things are normal in the Kiper household, which is where the business operates. We have seven TVs (including one in the garage), and the phone never, ever stops ringing. It has been ringing constantly since I met Mel.
At that time, I really didn't know what Mel did. All I knew was that he was involved with sports and that he had long hair. I was in pharmaceutical sales, the football world meant nothing to me, and I thought he'd be cute if he got a haircut.
By the time we got married in 1989, I realized how family-oriented Mel Kiper Enterprises was. His dad assisted Mel when he started it in the early '80s, and then his mom filled in for awhile. After learning about the draft books he published and other business details, I began to think that I would have fun helping out.
|Kim Kiper says she sees Mel "24-7, but we manage to get along perfectly."|
Now, I do all the typesetting, accounting and database work. Mel writes the books. The entire operation -- which consists of the two of us and two secretaries -- gets pretty harried this time of year, because everyone wants their copy of "The Draft Report" shipped yesterday.
There's also one other part of my job that's very important to Mel -- household barber. He lost those long locks that I hated awhile ago, but now he won't let anyone but me cut his hair. That doesn't mean that his gelled, slicked-back look is my choice -- I cut it how he wants it. I keep telling him to go find a professional, but I'm guessing I'll be his barber for life.
We see each other 24-7, but we manage to get along perfectly. Our personalities mix well -- he focuses on the football, and I make the office more efficient. That can be a tough task sometimes, because it involves dragging Mel into the computer age.
I wasn't around when Mel first started using a typewriter, but I hear it was quite a struggle to get him to put down the pen and paper. I know it was hard to get him on a computer. His uncle kept insisting it was easier, and finally Mel gave in. Not totally, of course. He still won't even attempt e-mail.
Football is all he thinks about in regards to work. His football memory is astounding. It's easy to see why he's a draft guru -- whatever goes into his head, sportswise, never leaves. Once I offhandedly mentioned the name of a childhood friend from my hometown, a small place in western Maryland. Mel immediately started spitting out his college stats and telling me how good a player he was.
But if I ask Mel to recall anything else, forget it. He couldn't get 10 miles down the road to the store without detailed directions, even if we drive it 50 times a day. It's like all of his memory is taken up by football.
And in April, so is most of his life. His typical work day stretches from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., and for a good three weeks before the draft all four of our phone lines don't stop ringing. I'm so swamped, trying to fill all the publication orders, that sometimes I'm not even sure what day it is.
To add to the draft craziness, Mel has a radio show on Saturdays and Sundays that covers all sports, not just football. On Fridays, he has to pull himself away from the draft to check out the rest of the sports news.
Although it might seem like Mel's entire life is football, especially this time of year, I don't talk to him about the game or players at all. That would drive him crazy. I don't know enough about it, and God forbid I had a question about an intricacy of the game!
When he hangs up the phone, that's the end of his football conversations. We're lucky he works out of the house and can scrape together free family moments here and there -- otherwise, we might not see much of him until after the draft.
Even with all this work, though, Mel's not one to beat himself up over incorrect predictions. It's more of a puzzle to him. He makes predictions based on certain criteria, but if these criteria change, the predictions change. Everyone wants to beat Mel's predictions in the "Draft Report," which was published March 30, but so much can change from then until the draft this Saturday. Teams trade up, teams trade down. It's hard to evaluate.
And as for predictions, don't ask for mine! I only know the names because I've seen them so many times. I don't follow any of it -- and that's probably why we get along so well.
I did used to go with Mel to the draft, before Lauren was born, but I probably won't even watch it this year. Well, I'll check to make sure Mel looks OK on TV, and then I'll tape it and possibly watch it later.
That is, if I can convince Lauren that I need the TV.
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||Football is all he thinks about in
regards to work. His football memory is
astounding. ... Once I offhandedly mentioned the
name of a childhood friend from my hometown, a
small place in western Maryland. Mel immediately
started spitting out his college stats and telling me
how good a player he was. But if I ask Mel to
recall anything else, forget it. ”
||— Kim Kiper