Throwback Thursday: NFL Draft Edition

Most of you probably neither know nor care, but tonight is the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. If I am to be honest, I have followed the draft less this year than in any other year in a long time. If it weren’t for the fact that ESPN’s “draft guru,” Mel Kiper, and I have been friends for almost 30 years, I probably would have stopped watching the draft years ago.

The American Football League (AFL) began play in 1960 and was successful enough, particularly in signing college players, to get the National Football League (NFL) to agree to a merger. Beginning with the 1967 draft–the two leagues would not actually merge into one until the 1970 season–the two leagues had a single draft of college players.

By virtue of their being an expansion team, the New Orleans Saints had the first pick in the 1967 draft. However, a week before the draft they traded the pick to the Baltimore Colts as part of a package for Baltimore backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo and guard Butch Allison. Cuozzo wasn’t even the Saints starting QB for the entire 1967 season, losing his job to Billy Kilmer.

The Colts selected Michigan State All-American defensive end Charles Aaron “Bubba” Smith with the first pick. He was one of four Spartans selected among the first eight picks. Smith was a good, not great, NFL player and probably became more famous in his post-football career as an actor. Of course, Smith’s football career was derailed by a serious injury in a pre-season game in 1972 and he filed suit against the NFL, two game officials and the Tampa Sports Authority (the game was held in Tampa) seeking damages. Eventually, Smith lost the suit. He played a total of nine seasons in the NFL, but was never the same after the injury.

I wanted to show a quality picture of Smith in a Baltimore Colts uniform, but it seems as though the rights to all of them are owned by Getty Images. I wish I still had the collection of large black and white photos of each Colts player my father gave me in 1969 or 1970. I could have taken a picture of Smith’s picture. As it is, here is a picture of Smith from Pinterest:

 

See the source image

 

Bubba Smith is #78 on the right. I am fairly certain that the player to the left, #74, is another Smith: Billy Ray Smith, Sr. who played for the Colts for ten seasons, 1961-1970.

The first round of the NFL Draft has better television ratings than most MLB or NBA playoff games. An average of almost 16 million viewers watched the first round of last year’s draft. Over 4 million watched the third day of the draft, rounds 4-7. By comparison, Game 2 of the 2020 American League Championship Series, the competition that determined the AL participant in the World Series, had fewer than 2 million viewers. Some games in the NBA conference championship series, which determined the participants in the NBA championship, had fewer than 4 million viewers. Yes, last year’s numbers were distorted by the damn virus, but 16 million viewers vs. 2 million or 4 million is quite a stark contrast.

Back to the 1967 draft…four eventual Hall of Famers were selected in the first round: Bob Griese, Floyd Little, Alan Page and Gene Upshaw. In all, 10 Hall of Famers were picked in the 1967 draft. A total tangent: one of those players, Willie Lanier, selected by Kansas City in the second round from Morgan State in Baltimore, was friends with my 7th-grade homeroom and music teacher, Mrs. Dorsey.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s Throwback Thursday edition, even if you’re not much of a football fan.

 

#ThrowbackThursday

#NFLDraft

#MelKiper

#1967NFLDraft

#BubbaSmith

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Monday Musings 44

Peter King is the most famous football writer in America. He now works for NBC Sports after many years at Sports Illustrated. His “Monday Morning Quarterback” column was very widely read on Sports Illustrated and I suspect his NBC Sports column, “Football Morning In America,” is also widely read.

Obviously, the recently concluded draft figured prominently in today’s column. I’m just going to pick out some parts of that column:

 

“On Sunday, ESPN vice president of production Seth Markman said that, other than a few slight delays between anchor Trey Wingo and field reporters and players, the telecast had no significant technical issues. ‘I loved how everyone embraced it,’ Markman said. ‘Nobody moved the camera, nobody covered the camera, nobody seemed annoyed. Coaches and GMs with families were great—people will never forget Bill Belichick and his dog. They all embraced this new reality.'”

“The public got to see things it never does, instead of the awful war-room shots that are so 1993. The Matt Nagy game plan wall, the John Harbaugh birdhouses, the Jerry Jones yacht, the Matt Rhule kid cheerleaders, the Kliff Kingsbury Architecture Digest living room, the kids, the kids, the kids. As [Joe] Douglas [New York Jets GM] told me: ‘My experience in the NFL is, you get in the weeds of draft prep, and then you draft, and you get home after midnight, and everyone’s asleep. You never experience the draft with your family. This year was an unintended plus. I loved being together for it.'”

“And give credit to Goodell. This was the best achievement of his 13-year term since the midnight CBA agreement in late July 2011. He thought the technology was there for teams to handle drafting from their homes; it was. He thought America needed three days of sporting normal; it did. He thought a more humble, lower-key draft was the way to go; it was.”

 

As I wrote here, I watched the entire first round, like I almost always do. I watched parts of the other two days of coverage, like I almost always do. I think the percentage of NFL fans among readers of this blog is lower than the population at large and, of course, that’s perfectly fine. Obviously, since Mel Kiper and I are friends I will watch the draft as long as he is part of the coverage. I think Goodell and the NFL made the right decision to hold the draft as scheduled and with a different format. I think that any attempt to have a draft like recent ones would have been a bad decision. Maybe the draft will be a little different going forward.

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My wonderful wife surprised me with a gift. Here it is:

 

 

I love the photo. I am having a difficult time trying to figure out where to hang it as our walls are not exactly bare and it’s not exactly small at about three and a half feet long. My Z06 looks most like the one on the far left.

 

 

Hope I’m not ruining “my karma,” but I love this car. Thanks, wonderful wife!

 

#NFLDraft

#Z06StandOut

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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Friday Foraging

The first round of the NFL Draft seemed to take place without a hitch. The telecast was less clean, but probably went as well as could be expected under the circumstances.

I watched the entire broadcast, an experience made much better by my texting with my long-time friend, Dr. Hoss. (Thanks, sir.) I very much like the Ravens’ selection of linebacker Patrick Queen from LSU with the 28th pick. The team needed more speed and athleticism, especially at linebacker.

I am not a patient person. (Remember my “joke?” I’m not a doctor; doctors have patients [patience].) I kept texting Dr. Hoss (a Ph.D. in a very tough science discipline from an Ivy League university) that the Ravens should move up to take Queen or Kenneth Murray. When the Ravens stood pat and still got Queen I texted, “That’s why EDC [Eric DeCosta] is [Ravens] GM and I’m in my sleep pants in front of the TV.” Dr. Hoss graciously replied, “You’d kill it if in EDC’s chair.” I responded, “Thanks, but I’d just GET killed.”

My 1A team, the Packers, surprised some by moving up four spots to select their “quarterback of the future,” Jordan Love of Utah State. Whether he says anything publicly or not, I am sure Aaron Rodgers is not happy with that pick. His displeasure is not just the admission by the team that it was time to find his successor, but the Packers played in the NFC Championship last season and I’m sure he wanted some help for the immediate future. In my cynical mind, I think the pick was made in part to counter the impression that Rodgers has a lot of control over what the Packers do.

I think it is apparent that the NFL made the right decision to go ahead with the draft as scheduled. It was/is a great diversion when we need one badly.

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Hagerty recently broke a big story in the automotive world. They acquired a corporate document that included the evolution timeline of the C8 Corvette. To wit:

 

Model Year Engine Power (est.) Torque (est.) Likely Application
2021 LT2 6.2-liter 16-valve OHV 490-495 hp 465-470 lb-ft RHD Corvettes for export
2022 LT6 5.5-liter 32-valve DOHC 650 hp 600 lb-ft Corvette Z06
2023 LT2 6.2-liter 16-valve OHV hybrid 600 hp 500 lb-ft Corvette Grand Sport
2024 LT7 5.5-liter twin-turbo DOHC 850 hp 825 lb-ft Corvette ZR1
2025 LT7HP1 5.5-liter  twin-turbo DOHC hybrid 1000 hp 975 lb-ft Corvette ZORA

 

I have written that a product evolution like this was thought likely. Anyway, the gratuitous C8 photo, this time from the Hagerty article. The more I see these cars, the more I like them.

 

 

I don’t think I’ll be buying a Zora in 4-5 years. I just hope I can still get in and out of my Z06 by then.

 

#NFLDraft

#C8CorvetteTimeline

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Thursday Bonus Random

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m “hopped up” on my first dose of Dunkin’ coffee in weeks, because I’m a little excited about the NFL Draft, because I’m a little excited about returning to using/playing Action! PC Football for the first time in six years, or just because I’m OCD, but I felt like posting again today.

This Sports Illustrated article chronicles how the NFL Draft came to be televised for the first time in 1980, 40 years ago. My long-time friend, Mel Kiper, is prominently featured as he should be. From Chat Sports, a picture of Mel:

 

See the source image

 

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I grew up playing statistical sports table games like APBA and Strat-O-Matic. One can hardly say it was a waste of time as I wound up as a pioneer of sports analytics, a “father” of Moneyball, had a 20+ year career in major league baseball (during which I earned a pension and two championship rings) and wrote a football book that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written (a book, by the way, with a Forward by Mel Kiper).

Action! PC Football is not a video arcade game. It is a game based on a realistic game engine in which the actual strengths and weaknesses of actual NFL players play a huge role in the outcome of games. I played this game from 2011 to 2014, after which I thought I was too old to indulge myself in such things. Even before the coronavirus rolled over the world I was considering getting back to it. This game is NOTHING like fantasy football. As I have written before and firmly believe, fantasy football is well-named because it bears little or no resemblance to the real thing.

I do not replay seasons that have already occurred. I have always drafted my own leagues from scratch and almost always at random. I must confess, though, that in the last such league I played in 2014, based on 2013 NFL season players and modeled after the 1968 NFL structure, I made sure that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns were horrible. What about Satan’s Minions, aka the Dallas Cowboys? They have never appeared in any of my Action! PC Football leagues. This league, using 2019 NFL players and the 1970 NFL structure, will be the Cowboys’ first and you can be sure they will not be good.

From the Action! PC Football site a picture of a game screen:

 

https://www.dksports.com/images/fb2020-gamescreen.jpg

 

Here is what I wore today to Dunkin’ in honor of Johnny Unitas, the NFL draft and Action! PC Football:

 

 

Thanks to my wonderful wife for taking the pictures. Thanks to Dr. Zal for giving me the jersey as a gift.

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I guess one should be thankful for small favors. While rummaging through the master bathroom looking for something else, I stumbled upon two bottles of this:

 

 

Between that discovery and the generosity of my good friend Bob, who sent me disinfectant tablets gratis that just need to be dissolved in water so they can be used in a spray bottle, I feel a little better about our disinfectant situation.

Normally, I make sure we have 6 or 7 cans of Lysol® spray in reserve at home, but–for some reason–in January and February I let the reserve run low. By the time we returned from Arizona the third week of March, Lysol® spray had seemingly disappeared from the world.

Hope you didn’t mind reading a second dose of Disaffected Musings today, especially since it had nothing to do with cars.

 

#ThursdayBonusRandom

#NFLDraft

#MelKiper

#Action!PCFootball

#SmallDoseOfSerendipity

#Lysol®

#somanycarsjustonelife

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Saturday Sampler

If Mel Kiper and I weren’t friends I probably would not watch the NFL Draft. He and I have known each other for more than 25 years. Mel graciously wrote the forward to my book that The Wall Street Journal called without a doubt the best book of its kind ever written.

Would you believe that the first round of the NFL Draft has more viewers than virtually all MLB and NBA playoff games? This year, when combining the coverage on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network the number of viewers for the first round was almost the same as the number (on the same night) for The Big Bang Theory, which is only the longest-running multi-camera sitcom in TV history. By the way, people must like to watch Mel because more people watched the draft on ESPN than on ABC.

 

Image result for mel kiper

 

From ftw.usatoday.com a picture of Mel Kiper.

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From The Muscleheaded Blog an Ultimate Garage submission, for which I am grateful:

 

Let me see……
I think a vintage Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, or a 1958 Austin Healey 100-6. But, I wouldn’t kick a 1957 Thunderbird out of my garage, either. 🙂

 

From supercars.net a picture of the aforementioned Ferrari:

 

See the source image

 

These cars were powered by a 3-liter/180 cubic-inch V-12—very small displacement for 12 cylinders—that produced 240 HP. How small of a displacement is that? The engine in the 2009 BMW Z4 I owned was almost the exactly the same size with just 6 cylinders.

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On this day in 2009 General Motors announced that Pontiac would be dropped and that production would be phased out by the end of 2010. As I have written before I have quite an affinity for the make. My first car was a 1967 GTO; the car I owned the longest was a 1995 Grand Prix. My wonderful wife owned a 1979 Trans Am although this was before I knew her.

In doing a little research to confirm the date I stumbled across this Jalopnik article. In it Bob Lutz, long-time automobile executive who was at GM when the Pontiac decision was made, is quoted as saying:

 

“The Feds basically wanted to get GM down to Cadillac and Chevrolet. They said, ‘You don’t need all these brands. You need one prestige brand, and one mass-market brand.’ And we said ‘well we can’t get rid of Buick because Buick is important in China, and if Buick becomes an orphan in the United States then the Chinese are no longer gonna be interested in it.’ And the Feds said ‘Fair enough, but everything else goes.’ We said we’d also like to keep GMC. They said ‘Well, GMC is basically just like Chevrolet,’ and we said ‘that may be true, there may be a lot of shared components, but GMC has an entirely different image, a different customer base, and people are willing to pay different prices for a GMC, and here’s the profitability,’ and the Feds said ‘whoops, okay, keep GMC.’

So now we had Buick, GMC, Cadillac, and Chevrolet, and then, I wanted, badly wanted, to keep Pontiac, because Pontiac was on its way back, and it had been mismanaged for a number of years, you know, with ‘rebuild excitement,’ and the excitement was only in the plastic body cladding, mechanically there was nothing about Pontiac in the 90s that would make your heart beat faster. And with the Solstice and Solstice coupe, and with the Pontiac G8, which was a great car we were embarked on a strategy of making Pontiac different from the rest of GM in that Pontiac wouldn’t get any front wheel drive cars, they would all be rear-wheel drive, and the next G6 was going to use the architecture of the Cadillac ATS, it was going to be a 3-series sized rear-wheel Pontiac, with basically the Cadillac ATS ‘de-premiumized,’ obviously, a lot of the cost taken out, but still fundamentally that architecture.

That was going to be the next G6, and I think we could’ve moved Pontiac away from every other American volume brand and really started positioning it as an attractive US alternative to some of the, and obviously at much lower prices than the European rear-wheel drive cars, but the Feds said ‘yeah, let’s just, how much money have you made on Pontiac in the last 10 years?’ and the answer was ‘nothing.’ So, it goes. And, when the guy who is handing you the check for 53 billion dollars says I don’t want Pontiac, drop Pontiac or you don’t get the money, it doesn’t take you very long to make up your mind. [emphasis mine]

But I think it is a shame, Pontiac was on its way back, and it was killed before it, before the plant could really sprout blossoms, you know, it was well on its way. So, I agree with you, I think Pontiac was a great, wonderful history, mismanaged for a number of years in the 80s and 90s and it was clearly on its way back, and we were starting to see a very good customer base in Solstices and especially in the G8, which was favorably compared in a lot of road tests to the BMW 5-series, people would say dynamically the car is as good and it’s more powerful and way cheaper, but that was too bad. But you can’t go through Chapter 11 without some really harmful effects.”

 

This statement is more evidence that Buick’s popularity in China saved it from the chopping block.

General Motors seems to be doing well these days. For example, for its fiscal year 2018 it reported profits of about $8 billion. Of course the automobile industry is difficult to predict and very large companies can’t change directions quickly.

A short pictorial homage to Pontiac:

 

See the source image

 

From cardomain.com a picture of a 1967 Pontiac GTO.

From hotrod.com a picture of a 1969 Pontiac Trans Am; in fact, this is supposed to be the first Trans Am built:

 

See the source image

 

From supercars.net a picture of a 2006 Pontiac Solstice GXP. The GXP variant was powered by a turbocharged 2-liter/122 cubic-inch 4-cylinder engine that produced 260 HP/260 LB-FT of torque, which was the highest specific output in GM history.

 

See the source image

 

See the source image

 

From wallpaperup.com a picture of a 1957 Pontiac Bonneville convertible with a fuel-injected engine. The fuelie wasn’t solely reserved for Corvettes.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings

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