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High anxiety

NFL teams no longer want the top picks in the draft

Posted: Thursday April 7, 2005 1:45PM; Updated: Thursday April 7, 2005 2:31PM
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Aaron Rodgers
Cal QB Aaron Rodgers appears to be the front-runner to be the No. 1 selection in the upcoming draft.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Bill Parcells said this a few years ago, but it's even more apropos now:

"I can't stand first-round draft choices. You can never sign 'em, and all they do is screw up your training camp and your whole salary structure."

Miami wants to trade down, out of its second pick in the first round, and lots of other people want to take that same downward route. But where are the teams that want to trade up? Very hard to come by. Maybe in a year with superstar talent, OK, you'll go for the big salary package, even though it'll eat up a good piece of the cap. But there are no real superstars this draft, nobody about whom a team is saying, "We've simply got to have him."

Former Raiders tight end Todd Christensen, with whom I regularly correspond, puts it another way:

"It never ceases to amaze me how the NFL brass collectively treats draft picks like plutonium," he writes. "Years ago, the Raiders picked up Lyle Alzado for an eighth-round choice and Greg Pruitt for an 11th. The fact that Pruitt went on to be a Pro Bowl kick returner and Alzado played four more years is almost beside the point. What eighth or 11th round pick is going to play like these guys?

"In the other three major sports, they are more than willing to part with draft picks, plenty of them in fact, if they can garner a proven player. Maybe that is why the Patriots brass is so ahead of the curve. What second-round pick could have possibly given them 1,600 yards and been ridden to a Super Bowl title as Dillon was?"

There's only one caveat. You have to be sure of what you're doing, and many teams aren't.

Owners' Greed Fuels Stadium Craze

I will never be in favor of a football stadium funded, even in part, by taxpayers' dollars. Rich people should pay for their own toys. For years the NFL has been conducting surveys that show how much the entire community benefits from a new stadium, and right along with them have come alternate surveys showing how it doesn't help the ordinary taxpayer at all. Which survey do you read?

I have yet to figure out how a guy working, say, in a factory, has a better way of life because of a new stadium. I've heard the traditional argument -- more tax revenue somehow filtering down to programs to help ordinary people, but there's never any guarantee as to how those funds will be used.

And it always shocks me to see how soon a new stadium "deteriorates," as they like to put it, although I have a hard time seeing the difference from when it was first built. Giants Stadium is the latest one. The Giants have filed suit against the New Jersey Sports Authority and Exposition that controls the stadium, demanding a "state-of-the art" facility, whatever that means.