134 Days

Old TypewriterIt’s that time of year again. The NFL released their schedule last night for the world to see, and we’re only 134 short days from the season opener. Of course, by that time I’ll already have been in uniform working scrimmages and actual high school games. The start of the NFL season isn’t the start of football for me anymore, but it is still a great day. The Steelers are opening at New England. I’d like to say it will be a good game, but with the way Brady carves up the Steeler defense, I don’t have high hopes. Well, unless Keith Butler has been hiding a bunch of super effective secrets Dick LeBeau refused to take into consideration when game planning for the Patriots in the past.

The Steelers schedule is brutal. Of course, the AFC North plays the NFC West this year, so all of their schedules are tough. I hope the Steelers rest well during their bye week. Four out of their last six are on the road, including a trip to Seattle and every road division game. I read it’s the toughest schedule in the league this coming season. Well, based on last year anyway, and we all know how much that carries over from year to year in the NFL, don’t we?

Speaking of the NFL, am I the only one in the world that doesn’t like the draft being at the end of April and a four day event? I mean, I get it, it’s the NFL. Every other guy who watches the league believes they can evaluate talent and coach better than the ‘hacks’ doing it for their team this year (just ask Todd Haley). But still, four days? Half of those picks won’t play more than a handful of games. And while those kids worked hard to get drafted and should absolutely take pride in their name being read, I can’t honestly say it does anything for me to see who the Jets are going to take with their sixth round pick this year (sorry Matt). Hell, I don’t even get that excited about late round Steelers picks. I know, if you’re the Patriots, that’s where you nab the Tom Brady types, but did anyone watching the 1999 draft stand up and shout championship when New England drafted him? In case you’re curious, here’s the scouting report:

Is not what you’re looking for in terms of physical stature, strength, arm strength and mobility, but he has the intangibles and production and showed great Griese-like improvement as a senior. Could make it in the right system but will not be for everyone.

They were wrong about his limitations, obviously, but this is the main reason I never get too excited about the draft. Until they put the pads on, it’s all just speculation. Bill Walsh said that he would take Brian Griese over Peyton Manning in 1998. Fourteen out of the twenty general managers polled by Newsday that year said Ryan Leaf was a better franchise quarterback prospect than Peyton. Why? Stronger arm and better mobility. I know everyone, especially sports fans, loves a good debate. I do too, but I don’t like to wait five years to figure out whether or not I’m right. Or, in the case of Leaf, 150 or so days…

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