Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - Waiting by the phone, a tale of two draft picks

It happens every April. After a brief lull in football related news, the media frenzy begins in earnest as teams circulate false rumors about players which they are or are not interested in drafting during the annual NFL draft. This will lead to hundreds of stories about teams and their interest or lack of interest in various players.

Those unfamiliar with the NFL draft may ask whether this is all just a smokescreen, but there is method to the madness. Each team has a list of players (aka "the draft board") who they have vetted and which will meet their needs or "provide value." The teams have invested time and effort in compiling the draft board and do not want other teams to pick those players ahead of their selection. At the same time, the teams also do not want to have to use a higher round draft pick to pick their coveted prospect if they know that the player will last into the later round. Finally, if the NFL team is aware that another team has the collegiate player on their draft board, the team may trade for an earlier draft pick ("aka trade up") in order to ensure that the player who fits their needs can be selected.

As part of the vetting process, the team will go to a player's pro day, interview or contact his college and even high school coaches and talk to each player's parent and/or agent. It is this last topic which led to the two phone calls which form the basis of this post.

As was reported by MJD in Shutdown Corner (click here for a link to the full blog post ), Mohamed Sanu, a Rutgers player received a very nasty prank call on the first night of the draft. The caller stated that he was with the Cincinati Bengals and that Sanu was going to be the Bengals draft pick at 27. Sanu and his family were thrilled and Sanu's agent tweeted that Sanu was about to become a Bengal. All was well and good until the Bengals drafted another player at 27.

To his credit, Sanu did not react negatively. As quoted by MJD, the next day, Sanu tweeted "Thank God for giving me another day and another opportunity to chase my dream ... "

The second draft phone call story which caught my attention involved Pittsburgh Steelers' First Round selection David DeCastro. After finding out that he had been selected, DeCastro received a celebratory phone call from Ben Roethlisberger. For reasons unknown, DeCastro thought that Roethlisberger was the team's secretary and his response to the celebratory call was "did you get those flight plans?" Apparently, he asked this question over and over before realizing that Roethlisberger was the starting quarterback, not the team secretary.

The two stories show an incredible contrast in attitude and entitlement. Sanu was not upset about the prank and was actually picked by the Bengals in the Third Round of the draft. No one is publicly saying whether Sanu was picked because he was slotted there on the Bengals draft board or because they were impressed with his maturity when he found out that he was pranked. DeCastro on the other hand showed that he is ready for the NFL, as he already is ordering around team officials, rather than being grateful for his place at the table.

The two stories reminded me of something that took place during my year in Israel. A friend of mine was staying at the home of an Israeli talmid in Jerusalem when a visitor came to the door. When he asked the visitor who he was, the visitor said that he was Aharon and that he needed to leave something for the parents of the Israeli talmid. My friend told Aharon that he could leave the item in the hallway. Only much later did my friend learn that "Aharon" was none other than R' Aharon Lichtenstein, the Rosh Yeshiva of Gush. You can imagine his embarassment when he realized how he had treated this gadol...

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