SI Vault
Edited by Franz Lidz
April 22, 1985
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April 22, 1985


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Through shrewd maneuvering or sheer circumstance, University of Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar finds himself in the rare position of being coveted by two clubs in the NFL, a league that considers free agency anathema.

NFL rules prohibit the drafting of players with college football eligibility remaining, and Kosar has two years left. However, he has enough smarts and credits to graduate in June, and for such go-getters the league has another rule: college players whose graduations are imminent can go right into the draft upon serving written notice.

Anticipating that Kosar would do just that before this year's April 15 deadline, the Houston Oilers last week traded the so-called Kosar pick (No. 2 overall) in the April 30 draft to the Minnesota Vikings, who dearly want his services. (Buffalo owns the No. 1 pick and has already signed Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith to a reported 4-year, $2.6 million contract.)

Alas, there is yet another NFL rule that allows players who somehow miss the cutoff date for the regular draft to go into a later supplemental one. In Kosar's case, this opened up a potentially large loophole because by failing, intentionally or not, to give notice by April 15, he would presumably go into the secondary draft.

Enter the Cleveland Browns, who also want Kosar and saw a chance to get him. The same day that the Houston-Minnesota trade was completed, Cleveland made a deal with the Buffalo Bills for the first selection in any supplemental draft. That put Kosar in the position of possibly being able to play the Vikings off against the Browns. Step right up, fellows, and make your bid.

To be sure, there's yet another rule that supposedly prevented the Browns from talking to Kosar after the Vikings made known their interest in him. But NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, not one to encourage bidding wars among member clubs, wasn't taking any chances. Last Friday he suspended the April 15 deadline and scheduled a hearing in New York City to be attended by representatives of the Vikings, Oilers, Browns and Bills. He says he'll reach a decision on the thorny Kosar case by April 23. Maybe he'll even come up with a new rule.


The NBA, on the other hand, doesn't have such problems. If a college basketball player with eligibility remaining wants to enter the NBA draft, all he has to do is say so. One of several players doing that this year is Manute Bol (SI, Dec. 10, 1984), the decidedly undinky Dinka tribesman. The 7'6" Sudanese center, a freshman at the University of Bridgeport ( Conn.), is looking for some fast cash to get his sister, Abouk, out of their strife-torn homeland. He hasn't seen or heard from her since last May.

But this is one time Bol may come up short. Though he has the wingspan of a condor, he has the build of a praying mantis. Despite attempts to bulk him up with pizza, lasagna and enough Nutrament to irrigate an African savanna, Bol weighs the same 190 pounds he did when he came to the school last summer. "If Manute stayed in college another year," says Bruce Webster, coach of the Purple Knights, "he'd be worth three to five times what he is now."

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