(or, a Bills fan and a Dolphins fan walk into a bar and sit next to a Browns fan)
For years on end, I’ve watched the NFL Draft from the comfy and private confines of either my apartment, dorm room or parents’ living room. I would applaud picks, criticize picks, and throw things at the screen when the Bills or 49ers made moves I did not like in the privacy of my own – or my parent’s own – home. This 2008 draft was the first in which I found someone to watch with, and went to a bar with potentially other fans around me. This was big – I had never watched the draft with anyone, other than my dad floating in and out of the living room, or a roommate who wasn’t really paying attention because they didn’t like sports. Actually going out to watch the draft, after 14 years of watching it on my own, felt like I was one of those deeply artistic people finally seeing the outside world after spending years so stricken with their emotional genius that they spent years inside their beach houses, lying in bed – like Brian Wilson did (whoa-ohhh.)
The only Miami Dolphins fan I could ever be friends with (The Dolph-fan, if you will) and I made a trek to a bar in Allston to watch Round 1 of the draft on Saturday afternoon. We could of potentially had a party that represented every team in the AFC East, but my boyfriend and The Dolph-fan’s roommate both had papers to write and finals to study for, leaving us without our Patriots and Jets representatives. The bar was not at all crowded, and there was only one other person watching the draft – a Cleveland Browns fan. Misery loves company, so we quickly absorbed the Browns fan into our viewing party and settled in to watch the draft unfold.
Miami had decided their first overall pick a few days before (say what you will about Bill Parcells, but the man is not a time-waster), and Cleveland did not have a pick until the fourth round, so my viewing party was waiting with bated breath for the eleventh overall pick by the Bills. Whomever decided that the new 10 minute time limit on first round picks would speed up the draft did not take into account the number of trades that ended up occurring, and it ended up feeling like forever before the Bills made their pick. In the hour or so leading to the pick, I swore up and down that the Russ Brandon (Bills VP who I actually met back in the day because he was an alumni panelist or something of that sort at a St. John Fisher College Admitted Students Day)-led draft team would pick a solely-needed wide receiver, and it would be either Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas. Supposedly, Kelly might have had some attitude issues arise during his pro day, but from everything I was reading, the Bills liked him more than Thomas, or did not expect Thomas to still be around at eleven.
The Bills pick seemed somewhat anti-cliamatic to the NFL Network announcing panel, and they decided to spend time discussing the previous picks during the Bills deliberation time. Then, all of a sudden, their reporter on the floor of Radio City Music Hall interrupts to say that he had heard that the Bills’ planned to take cornerback Leodis McKelvin with their pick.
And then I realized what one of the most important positives of watching the draft holed up in the comfort of one’s living room was – the ability to scream when your team makes a questionable move, especially when you loudly claim to everyone in a bar that you are one hundred percent sure they will be taking someone completely different.
I resisted the urge to crumple my napkin and throw it at the HD television directly above our seats. Instead, I muttered to my draft-mates. “Who do they expect Edwards to throw to? The air?” (The Browns fan got a kick out of that one. I let that slide. He once had no team to root for at all – which is far worse than being a Bills fan.)
The biggest highlight of the draft came shortly after, and made me temporarily forget my bad call. NFL Network decided to cut to Foxboro and speak to Bill Belichick about the Patriots early draft trade down. Dressed in a light beige suit and shirt and tie that could only be described as “baby announcement pink”, he stiffly presented a soliloquy on the Pats’ pick and their trade, sounding every bit as boring as Ben Stein (if we young adults weren’t so conditioned to laugh at him.) As you could imagine, our draft party was extremely amused at this, and heckled the screen like we were Boston University fans at a Boston College hockey game. It was the worse possible mix – two fans of bitter AFC East foes, and a fan of the team where Belichick failed as a head coach over a decade ago. The only way this draft party could get any more anti-Belichick is if a Giants fan had joined us and we had found Matt Walsh alone at the bar and invited him to join us.
Having realized that the “Unintentional Comedy Scale” had been broken for the day with that one Belichick appearance, our Browns fan soon left us to watch the long, drawn out, and quite dull outside of the trades rest of round one on our own. No projected top 6 pick was left to mope in the waiting room alone with cameras capturing his every breath. No Vikings forgetting that they had a pick and were on the clock. Despite the lack of drama, The Dolph-fan and I walked away from the bar at the end of round one filled with hope that this season will be the season that one of our teams unseats the Patriots.
Or, in my case, the hope that my team doesn’t lose to them by 46 points.
Or, the hope that my team doesn’t lose to them by 46 points in a nationally televised game. Yep, that’s more realistic.
Our Non-Sports Note of the Week, Month, or whatever amount of time between posts: I wish my Nana was alive for many touching reasons. I wish she could have seen me graduate from high school and college, I wish she could see my cousin’s daughters, and I wish my little brother could have gotten to know her. But, in all reality, one of the reasons I think about the most as of late is so she could see the massive star Kelly Ripa has become. Growing up, my Nana was a fan of All My Children, and when I was over there during school vacations, I would eat my turkey and Miracle Whip sandwich lunch while she watched the soap opera. She adored a then teenaged Kelly Ripa. However, I don’t think she could have ever imagined her as a talk show host with Regis Philbin and in tons of commercials for things like appliances, 7Up and who knows what else. She was on All My Children – who would of thought she’d ever do anything else?! Every time I see her on TV, I always think of my Nana and wish I could get her take on Ripa’s meteoric rise. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t particularly like Ripa, but I think my Nana would just get a kick out of it all.