Friday, April 24, 2009


The Internet was the perfect invention for the NFL draft. Remove the layers of hooey past from the event, and the draft is a list of names. The Internet is an unequaled means of reading a list quickly and then looking up stuff about who or what's on the list. Plus, of course, the Internet doesn't scream at you nor make you watch pictures of huge young men wearing funny-looking caps.

Best of all, the Web allows me to give the proper amount of attention to the draft as a sport fan. Thirty minutes or so a day sounds about right. I'm a speed reader.

I don't think the draft is overrated. Yes, it's an occasion that reminds me of those folks who'd rather talk about wine than drink it, but that's prejudice. I know the draft is important for the players and teams involved, and it's a pleasant parlor game for fans-as long as they remember the economics theory of asymmetric information. That is, the teams doing the drafting, even the ones who make picks that turn out horribly wrong, even Dan Snyder, have much more information about those players than you do.

And yes, the law of asymmetric information applies in spades to media members. It was one reason I hated writing about it. A columnist is supposed to take a position, but how do you take one when you're not all that sure what the hell you think? It's tough enough to try and guess along with Bill Belichick when all you can't see is his hole card. When you can't see any card in the deck, it's hopeless.

There was another reason I hated writing draft columns-a more personal one. As a football talent scout, I suck. I lack even the most basic ability - picking the college players who are stone locks to succeed in the NFL. I'm pretty sure the last college player I felt that way about was O.J. Simpson.

On closer judgment calls, I have no judgment to speak of, as the following story should reveal. Back in 1993, when BU still had football, it also was working on an undefeated season and made the Division 1-AA playoffs. The quarterback, Robert Dougherty, was sort of a Doug Flutie clone, short, slippery, made big plays, threw the occasional big interception. At the 1-AA level, he was a hoss.

BU's first-round playoff game was against Northern Iowa at Nickerson Field. Highly entertaining. BU won in overtime by something like 45-41, and each team gained over 500 yards, most of it by passing. I wrote a column on Dougherty. I may or may not have mentioned the name of the other team's QB. At any rate, I forgot him the minute the story was filed, and never game the guy a nanosecond's thought until January, 2000.

That's when I got to Super Bowl XXXIV, and realized that the guy who I'd completely ignored back then and forever after was Kurt Warner.

Matt Millen, you should feel better now.


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