NFL Draft moments to remember — and forget
There are bloopers, highlights, and stare downs. Really, there’s everything.
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But the NFL Draft’s most understated piece might just be its history. Teams going from worst to first in a single moment. It’s happened every season, for about a decade.
And then there’s the moments that don’t alter one team, they alter history. Here’s a few of those, along with some of the most incredible bloopers known to football.
10. Jon Gruden doesn’t know he’s live
Jon Gruden is atop just about everyone’s list of favored football personalities, particularly Raiders fans. And why shouldn’t he be? If it’s not for Frank Caliendo impersonations, it’s his Jason Tarver-like television presence.
During the 2007 NFL draft, Gruden was helping anchor ESPN’s coverage, and as the team returned from commercial, he was cursing the wisdom of coaches to Mel Kiper Jr.
The exact quote?
“So I told him, with these dumbass coaches.”
Just before Gruden was cut off by Chris Berman.
9. The decision: Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning
Hindsight being what it is, this decision was actually very real at the time. Leaf was one of the highest touted quarterback prospects in NFL history, and Manning had been crucified for mediocre arm strength.
Luckily for the Indianapolis Colts, they decided on Manning with the first overall pick in 1998, and the San Diego Chargers jumped for joy with Leaf.
Terrible play, a couple of injuries, and a serious drug habit became a thing for Leaf, and he is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for felony burglary.
8. The trade of a small town receiver
Jerry Rice is arguably the best player in NFL history, and the hands down best receiver the league has ever witnessed. Someone should have told the New England Patriots.
During the 1985 draft, the Patriots and 49ers swapped a few picks, particularly their first-round selections. The 49ers had the last, 28th at the time, and the Patriots held number 16.
Jerry Rice went to San Francisco, while New England took a center that was snapping the ball to Steve Young at BYU.
It was a fair trade at the time…
7. The Rams forego their pick for the haul of a lifetime
The 2012 draft had a few big names. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Trent Richardson. Those top three were unanimously decided before the draft began, in that order, and it all came to fruition.
But even though the Rams held the Griffin pick, they were offered three first-rounders and a second-rounder.
The Rams would trade back again, with the Dallas Cowboys for another second round pick and the Cowboys’ 14th overall pick. Dallas selected cornerback Morris Claiborne,who has struggled mightily and may not last much longer in the NFL.
With all of the picks added, St. Louis drafted Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Tavon Austin, and have the second overall pick, again, in this year’s draft.
6. With the first overall pick, the Raiders select JaMarcus Russell
This was certainly Raider luck. Russell was the clear-cut number one guy. And even then, Al Davis and his team had fallen in love with some receiver now known as Megatron, though his mother calls him Calvin or Mr. Johnson.
But Oakland needed a quarterback, so they took Russell. During the draft, ESPN’s top analyst, Mel Kiper Jr., noted that Russell would be a top-five quarterback within three years. That was in 2007.
After those three years expired, Russell had developed a serious addiction to cough syrup, and was being ran out of the NFL. He now won’t even be signed by any Canadian football teams.
5. The ultimate football project fails
For any parent, who happens to think one can be raised as the ultimate football player, this one’s for you. Todd Marinovich was the son of long-time Raiders strength and conditioning coach Marv Marinovich.
The elder decided that he could make Todd the ultimate quarterback. It started with chicken livers for lunch and wind sprints for dinner.
The overall conditioning was so over-the-edge that even professionals wouldn’t want to comply.
Todd was a standout through his adolescence and into college, later being drafted by the Raiders.
Unfortunately, the pressure and expectations seemed to bury him, and he developed a drug habit. His NFL career was short-lived, and Marinovich currently resides in southern California, where he enjoys the surfers’ culture.
4. John Elway says NO!
Little-known to many fans today, John Elway was a dual-sport athlete. He was a baseball pitcher, like many great quarterbacks, and the New York Yankees wanted him. Bad.
Elway had also made it clear that he didn’t want to play for the Baltimore Colts.
Baltimore called his bluff, even though he claimed to have been very serious. The threat was enough for the Colts to send him to Denver for basically nothing in what is known as the most lopsided trade in NFL history.
Bo Jackson would take the tactic to the next level, saying no to the Buccaneers, playing one season of baseball, and then being signed by the Oakland Raiders. Jackson is still the best player in the history of Techmo Bowl.
3. Oh, I’m not bluffing
For two seasons starting in 1983, the USFL showed serious promise. An upstart league that played during spring, USFL owners were willing to shell out much larger contracts that NFL owners.
The league signed the reigning Heisman trophy winners two years in a row, thrusting their reputation as a real contender in American football.
Many players were drafted into the NFL, but opted for the upstart. Notables include Reggie White, Herschel Walker, Archie Griffin, Doug Flutie and Steve Young, among several others.
The USFL also spawned many rule changes, like two-point conversions and reviewable calls.
2. Prime Time is too expensive for Detroit
Deion Sanders is a personality. He’s almost like Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson, the way he heralds the spotlight. But Sanders was more of a team player.
Nonetheless, Prime wanted no part of the Detroit Lions. The team must have known this, because they passed and he was selected by the Atlanta Falcons. In a now infamous post draft interview, Sanders said:
“I would’ve asked for so much money they would’ve had to put me on layaway.”
The crazy part is, that might have been a good investment, seeing how Sanders went on to be the first person ever to hit a World Series home run and score an touchdown in the NFL — in the same week.
1. Smith over Rodgers, every time except for ever
It’s long been almost 10 years since the 2005 draft when the 49ers passed on quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Sitting high with the top pick, Rodgers and the 49ers appeared a match made in heaven.
Rodgers grew up just two hours from Candlestick, and went to school at Cal.
Just about every professional had projected Rodgers to the Niners. Except they missed one important detail: the arrogance of Mike Nolan.
Nolan told media after the draft that he detected some attitude in Rodgers. Hindsight being what it is, perhaps Nolan was simply unable to identify a stupid line of questioning, or his own attitude, rather than the attitude of others.
San Francisco of course took Alex Smith, and entering the 2011 season where he and coach Jim Harbaugh steered the franchise right again, Smith had thrown 53 interceptions to 51 touchdowns.
For non-football people, that’s horrendous. And by 2011, Rodgers wore a Super Bowl ring and had been named MVP of just about everything.