Now that he’s signed and in camp, let’s lay off Brady Quinn. I guess he squeezed the last dollar out of the Browns. Hooray for him. That’s to be expected. Nobody plays pro football as a hobby.
What a great first job out of college this is. The first-round draft picks are paid millions. It’s embarrassing. But it’s a tradeoff. They’re overpaid, but they don’t pick their employer. They’re told where to work. That’s the deal with the draft.
Frankly, I think the draft is illegal. There are laws against conspiratorial hiring practices like this. There is no free market in the NFL. The teams share all their revenue and on draft day they agree on who gets hired and by whom.
Fifty years ago, the draft was held in Philadelphia in December with two weeks left in the regular season. It was one notch above a smoke-filled room when the Browns landed Jim Brown, the Packers got Paul Hornung and the Steelers took Lenny Dawson, who was released in training camp and played semi-pro ball for a couple of years before going onto success in Kansas City.
Now the draft has evolved into a profitable television show that serves many purposes. The TV rights to this extravaganza are sold for millions. The draft gets increasingly more elaborate. In recent years a handful of candidates are invited to New York to be introduced live on stage when they’re picked. They’re part of the show.
If you recall the last draft when the Browns selected Brady Quinn with the 22nd pick, Brady turned out to be the greatest individual draft day star of all time. He was on camera for over five hours. It was the most compelling draft day story ever.
Having used him, it’s time to pay him. Draft picks are used to hype season tickets. They are promoted as future Hall of Famers. Browns general manager Phil Savage has called Brady Quinn the face of the franchise. Eight years ago, Carmen Policy called Tim Couch the face of the franchise. You win some you lose some, but win or lose, the money keeps rolling in.
Players know that this is lunacy. They may be greedy, but they’re not stupid. Most of them turn out to be disappointments. They realize this. But they didn’t invent the system. Those geniuses in the NFL discovered that hope sold but hyperbole sold better.
The draft has turned around to bite the NFL in its rear end.
By the way, those five-year contracts the NFL advertises are not worth the paper they’re written on. They can cut any player at any time and the paychecks stop. That’s why players will arm wrestle them over the guaranteed signing bonus.
Keep in mind one other thing. You can always recognize an old pro football player. He’s the one limping.
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