I realize that this might be a bit sacrilegious but, I have to say it. The NFL draft has become just another over-hyped cash-cow for the National Football League. <GASP!> “The Horror!” “How can you say that?” “You’re a girl; you don’t play football. You don’t get it.”
Yes, I am female. However, I enjoy sports just as much as anyone else. I’m a die-hard Steelers fan too. I go so far as to have my own superstitions. One year, I think this was 2005, the Steelers were having a great year. I was living in Colorado Springs and was proud to wear my Steelers sweatshirt on chilly nights. Then I noticed that anytime I wore anything with the Steelers logo on it, the Steelers LOST. My son forbid me to wear or touch anything with the logo during the game. So, I put away my mug, drinking glasses, shirts, even my Terrible Towel. That’s fanaticism folks. I have it. I have slowly started to wear my Steelers gear again, but I get nervous when the game starts to go bad.
Can I be a football fan AND criticize the draft? Heck yeah! I am just as excited about and interested in all the articles about the college talent available and who might become a Steeler. That’s the part that is fun. It’s like having a group of people each trying to put the same puzzle together, but no one has a picture to go by. You get so many views and perspectives. I love reading up on opinions and thinking: “Hmmm, that’s a great point. I didn’t think of it that way.” Sometimes I think the opposite, but I keep those opinions to myself. (Just saying.)
Part of the excitement of the draft is the suspense. It’s amazing how much faith that fans put into those picks and their ability to turn the team around or bring a championship to a franchise. It’s all a gamble. Last year, I was excited when David DeCastro was picked because I thought: “I like how the Steelers management seems to be concentrating on the offensive line.” Yeah, that lasted until training camp when DeCastro was out for the year with an injury. It was the same thing the year before with Baron Batch. There is no fault here, but you just can’t predict if the choices will actually help the team.
I look at the fans who attend the Draft and are all painted up to show their team spirit and I wonder if I will ever have that level of dedication. I much prefer to watch it on television and monitor it on the internet. I feel that the commercialism and the “anything to make a dime” factor has gotten to be too much and I can turn that part out better from my recliner. The NFL and the owners make a significant amount of money. I have no idea how much, but just think of the NFL merchandise and memorabilia sales spike before and after every draft. It irritates me when I think about the profits and contract situations. I wonder what the pay scales are for the myriad of staff every team has, from stadium workers to athletic trainers. Then, I force myself to disengage that part of my brain and just be a Steelers fan.
Tomorrow and this weekend, this Steelers fan will ignore the commercialism and the hype, as well as some of the inane commentary to fill the time between picks, and just watch the draft. In particular, I’ll be watching the draft to see who the teams think will help their program. I’ll be on the edge of my seat when the Steelers make their first pick. I’ll have my opinion on whether the picks (for all the teams) were sensible or in the “what-the-heck” category. I’ll be a fan even though I think it has become over-hyped and too commercialized. It’s as if I can’t look away. I guess the NFL reeled me in too.