Across the galactic expanse of the robust marketing gamut of the major professional sports, the deflating emotional letdown immediately following the official announcement of the first pick of the National Football League draft, completely unravels months of hype, gigabytes of content generated in predicting the cruel fate of the chosen team, and the perpetual future scenarios proposed by the experts.
In the time that it takes for Colin Kaepernick to kneel and immediately alienate 50% of the gridiron fan base, two months of computing and server storage worth of Icelandic microclimate changing energy is reclaimed in maintaining the elegance of league commissioner Roger Goodell’s NASA engineered hair style, and the fleeting attention span almost instantaneously flips to the start of training camp.
With the depth and complexities rivaling gawking at the aftermath of a self-driving car accident, where the driver was asleep at the smartphone, the NFL draft is by far the most contrived and effective off-season marketing ploy in brand maintenance and the core viewers cannot get enough. As a testament to the arrogance emanating from the front office of the sport, the event is held on a Thursday, and competes against the a slew of games in the first quarter of baseball season and the NBA playoffs. While historical data shows that the number one pick is akin to throwing darts blindly in attempting to capture greatness, inexplicably, the ceremony and novelty of fandom overtakes logic, in decreeing draft day as a national sports holiday that generates billions of dollars.
Historically, the Cleveland Browns were a dominate franchise, but over the last quarter of century have degraded to the fleeting quest for mediocrity. As the team has been cursed with three #1 overall picks and numerous other high draft slots over the last decade, the prolific selections have translated to a meager level of success on the football field. In selecting University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield as the top pick of the 2018 draft, the only thing for certain is that the future is unknown, and the Browns were winless last season. Ironically, when the team last enjoyed a significant run of success in the 1980’s, the abundance of high draft choices were not a part of the winning formula.
In the inexact science of professional sports, hindsight is definitely 20/20, and the temptation to overanalyze future performance employing a plethora of statistical formulas, is no worse than the urge to attend the draft donning a retro jersey and vociferously booing every pick in the first round. A needed dose of healthy dialogue amid these turbulent times, includes debate at the smart water machine in the office, as to the sideline to sideline and franchise building attributes of Saquon Barkley.
Mayfield is a tough and arrogant competitor and hails from a traditional NCAA powerhouse, but the weight of the entire Cleveland nation is now upon his shoulders, as the winds of the past whisper the names of once promising signal callers and saviors Tim Couch, and Johnny Manziel, who failed to lead the team to sustained success. For every Peyton Manning, there is a Ryan Leaf, and for every Sam Bowie there is Michael Jordan, as the inevitable checks and balances of thermodynamics, readily apply to the sporting world, and make the draft worthy of speculation, and the games the true metric in evaluating greatness. This reality leaves the door slightly open for the delightful scenario of a 6th round pick dreaming of a first ballot hall of fame worthy career.