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As a draft-nik, what I am about to advocate might shock some.

There has been plenty of talk about the ballooning salaries for rookie players that have become a detriment to veteran players that deserve the reward.

In my mind, the biggest examples for why the NFL Draft should be fundamentally and drastically changed are quite simple: Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler, Todd Marinovich, and Tony Mandarich.

When you think about it, all that an immoral player would have to do in order to cash-in with the NFL Draft is to shoot steroids in college where testing is easier, get selected in the 1st or 2nd round, and then take the money and run. Then they’re set for life.

That might seem like a quaint idea to those with minimal ethics, but as an NFL fan, I wouldn’t want the steroid freeloaders who shoot-up and take a hand-out like Tony Mandarich. 

Or simply, those who shake-down a team, like Heath Shuler, and flop, or burn the money on drugs like Todd Marinovich.

Before you get confused, I’m less offended by drug-use than I am by the fact that college players inflate their draft status only to then take money to the detriment of veteran players, fans and club employees.

Four Examples:

4) In the case of Heath Shuler, he shook down the Redskins in 1994 and flopped. Shuler would get elected to the US House of Representatives from North Carolina in 2006 and is now helping to spend money as if it grew on trees. It is like he returned to the scene of the crime.

3) In the case of Todd Marinovich, I just get queasy at the thought that the money he received from the Raiders after his selection in the first-round of the NFL Draft only served to enable his drug problems.

2) In the case of Tony Mandarich, he’s once again cashing-in on his collegiate dirtbaggery with a book entitled My Dirty Little Secrets in which he admitted to be a juicer, junkie, and generic scumbag. He even said that he was jealous of his brother who was dying from cancer because of all the morphine he had. 

Mandarich juiced at Michigan State and then abruptly stopped after he was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1989 because he thought he didn’t need the horse-steroids and even insisted as much to the media.  That however was after he took the Packers and Green Bay community for millions and gave them nothing in return except the proverbial spit in the face and a kick in the rear.

1) And in the case of the one flop to rule them all, Ryan Leaf.  He was and always has been a dirtbag who in effect committed grand theft and then spit in the face of Charger fans and club employees.  Some people feel sorry for drug-addicts. I draw a line though —if the person can show contrition about their behavior, then I will. 

Unless the person wants to lie to themselves that their problem is just the product of peer-pressure and what others do. I then tune-out. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But the junkie is the one with the problem, thus it doesn’t help to enable their self-pity by overlooking the choices they made through dramatic attempts to fix their problems.

Just ask George Jones. Okay, so most of you readers probably don’t understand that reference, so go listen to the song “Choices” by the country-singer. That song can equally apply to all juicers and junkies.


By now, I think you get the idea that it is obscene to give millions of dollars to rookies that haven’t proved anything. You might say that some rookies turn out fine and don’t deserve to be lumped in with thieves and addicts. 

I say, yes—so that the clean players are more conscientious and willing to stand-up to the thieves and addicts.

To me, what those players did was far worse than what Michael Vick did. At least, Vick gave Atlanta fans their money’s worth when they bought tickets. That is not to condone what Vick did, but simply to say, what those players did was worse by comparison.

Ideas to Improve the Draft

With that said, the problem with the Draft is that it has inflated the value of rookies.

One idea that has been proposed is a salary-cap for rookies. The problem I have with that idea is the possibility that a salary-cap for rookies will only hinder a club’s ability to sign all selections, while the top picks would still take more than they should.

Frankly, I believe that a salaries should be capped according to where the player was selected, meaning that no first-overall pick can make more than a certain amount. An agent can’t shake down a team based on perceptions of that club’s need or desperation —a “flat cap” if you will—when the player has yet to produce. 

However, the player would be allowed to opt-out after two years in order to seek a new deal, but that their club would still hold exclusive rights to re-sign him. If he produced, then he’ll get a pay-raise. If no production, then out the door he goes, where he can earn a real living rather than live for life on NFL hand-outs.

Even at *minimum salary,* NFL players make far more than most people ever will, so I really don’t feel badly for players that make $4 million to play a game.

The other idea to change the Draft is to eliminate the act of trading draft picks. You heard me. No more trading of draft-picks, which only inflate the perception of that rookie’s value. 

Instead, I would like to see the NFL Draft act more like the MLB Draft, where a club would lose a pick when that club signs a free-agent and can’t stockpile draft picks so that they don’t have to pay the veterans what they earned. Moreover, clubs could receive additional compensatory picks from the Commissioner.

It seems to me that while Roger Goodell has been too aggressive on certain things—suspending players, for one—that he is at least trying to enhance the NFL such as expansion of the Rooney Rule.  Even if the NFL never admit what I believe to be the truth about, “The Tuck Rule Game.”

So I hope that changes are made to the NFL Draft, even if that means people stop caring about the NFL Draft, even if Jets fans no longer show-up to boo their picks.  Frankly, an obsession with the Draft has inflated the value of rookies to the detriment of fans, veteran players and other club employees.

So if we fans have to sacrifice an obsession over the Draft possibilities in order to fix an obscene problem, then I’m all for it.

Frankly, fan obsession over the NF DraftL in effect only serves to enable the problems of rookies, because our obsession leads to more money for rookies to burn. 

And I’m tired of it, and would hope that no one else wants to be part of it.

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