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After Six Weeks In The Desert, It Was Finally Nice To See Live Sports

Last night’s NFL Draft was much like a starving man entering a fast food joint. It wasn’t great, but when you’ve done without for so long, anything available is still pretty daggone good.

For the first time since March 12, we didn’t have to watch a rerun of some sporting event played 14 years ago. There was actually something sports-related on television where the final chapter had not been written, and we got to ride along with the ending page by page.

Not all of it was good. As you’d expect, ESPN had way too many people on its virtual broadcast, and some of them never have anything to say worth listening to in the first place. The verbally clumsy Booger McFarland, for example, started off the broadcast saying “I just want everybody to have fun tonight,” displaying the wit and insight you usually get from a cashier at the grocery store.

Note to Booger: We don’t care who has fun. We’ve been caged in our homes for 6 weeks without sports. Tonight, it’s about us. We don’t care if it seems selfish. Entertain us.

By entertaining, of course, we mean make some picks. Or trades. Show us some intrigue. Let us watch something we don’t know is going to happen.

Which ESPN didn’t do in the first half hour. Cincinnati has been on the clock longer than everybody in the state combined has waited to buy toilet paper, and even my dog Maggie knew they were going to pick Joe Burrow. But ESPN milked all the time they could out of telling Joe Burrow’s story, saluting health care workers and adding a melodramatic flavor to the broadcast to the point I was expecting us all to break out into “We Are The World.” If time allowed, an encore of Kumbaya was a distinct possibility.

The broadcast started at 8 PM, yet by 8:25, not a single pick had been made. Finally Burrow was announced, and with it came a flurry of virtual interviews that were done so haphazardly, they were still talking to Burrow when the Redskins made Chase Young the second pick in the draft.

During those interviews, you got to see Burrow, and he didn’t look all that excited. He hugged his Mom and Dad, but had all the emotion on his face one would usually find when told they had to consume a three-bean casserole for dinner. He’d just learned he was the best player in the draft who would make millions of dollars, and instead of throwing his arms up in celebration, he looked more like a college kid who had been trapped in his home with his Mom and Dad for the last six weeks.

Which, of course, he had.

They finally got Burrow out of the way so we could focus on the Redskins’ pick of Young. It’s a very solid pick and I think Young can be a monster on this Washington defense. Twitter reaction was mostly “Yay, we didn’t mess this up” while there were a few who still thought the Redskins should have passed on Young, ignored the fact they took a quarterback last year, and taken Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa instead.

The correct answer to this is “who knows?” Tua is a fine quarterback, but before he was taken at No. 5 by the Miami Dolphins, a screenshot was put up of all of the injuries he’s suffered in the last two years. He’s been hurt more than all the women in the last two years of Hallmark Christmas Movies combined, so it’s fair to be concerned about his durability.

Young is the safer pick, and I really like the choice. But in 1992, I liked the Redskins picking Desmond Howard at No. 4 in the draft, and it didn’t take long for the league to find out he couldn’t play wide receiver in the NFL. He was a decent return man, but you don’t spend the No. 4 pick in the draft on a return man.

Two years later they did it again. I really liked the Redskins picking Heath Shuler at No. 3, and he had everything you’d want in an NFL quarterback. Well, except for the ability to read defenses and find the second or third option. Gus Frerotte beat him out as the starter, and he was taken in that same draft, only 194 places later at 197 in the seventh round.

Bottom line: nobody will know until about halfway through the next season.

Once the Redskins picked Young, the only other intrigue was whether they’d be able to trade Trent Williams for a reasonably high draft choice. It seemed, however, as if the league got together and decided to play keepaway from the Redskins, as just about every team that could be a potential trade partner for Williams took an offensive tackle. Rather than trade a high draft choice in return for a veteran OT, teams decided to spend that draft choice and get a rookie OT.

At some point, we’re going to get far enough in the draft that there aren’t any draft choices high enough left this year to make a trade worthwhile. Then the nightmare situation nobody wants may happen: The Redskins and Trent Williams have to co-exist together for another year.

We’re not there yet. But we’re getting close.

Aside from that, the rest was just the enjoyment of watching something live. There were amusing moments, such as when in one household, a prospective draftee is intensely staring at his phone waiting for news, but over to the right, his brother is barely in the frame laying all over the sofa like a boneless chicken. Moms all over America were yelling “would you sit up! You’re on national television!”

Then there was Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, who appeared to be guided by the “no pants” work at home guidelines so many of us are following during the shutdown: He wore a bath robe. I don’t know if Old Spice needs an athlete for a new commercial, but Henry looked like he was auditioning for it. He went to the Raiders at No. 12.

The play of the night, however, may have come from Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb. As he was taken No. 17 by the Dallas Cowboys, the camera showed him looking into one cellphone while a very beautiful woman sitting next to him (who I will assume is his wife or girlfriend) reached over and took his cellphone. While talking on one cellphone, he had the presence of mind to smoothly reach and get the second phone back without missing a beat.

That’s a veteran move. Like all the greats, he was always alert, and kept his head on a swivel.

So NFL, it was fun. Pro sports, let’s do this again.

Preferably every night. For the rest of our lives.

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Sunday, 27 September 2020
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