75TH NFL DRAFT BEGINS THURSDAY, APRIL 22 AT 7:30 PM ET
ANSWERING THE BELL
As the 75th NFL Draft approaches, many NFL fans can recall how the fortunes of their favorite teams were forever altered by a draft. From the Colts’ selection of PEYTON MANNING with the first overall selection in 1998 to the Patriots taking a chance on TOM BRADY during Round 6 in 2000, the foundation of all great teams begins on draft day.
Few fans, however, remember the role that former NFL commissioner BERT BELL, who conceived the concept of the NFL Draft in 1935, played in elevating the NFL from a secondary sport to the most popular sport in America.
Bell, who owned the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, helped save the foundering league by developing the draft concept to foster competitive balance and strengthen weaker franchises. The first draft was held in 1936 in Philadelphia at the Ritz Carlton Hotel owned by Bell’s father. The meeting took place in Bert’s hotel room.
In the pre-draft era, teams fought against one another for players coming out of college. The NFL’s four strongest franchises at the time – the Giants, Bears, Packers and Redskins – dominated. The other clubs were left struggling just as badly on the field as they were financially. Some were even on the verge of folding, including Bell’s Eagles.
“I made up my mind that this league would never survive unless we had some system whereby each team had an even chance to bid for talent against the others,” said Bell, a charter inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. The draft is part of a leaguewide commitment to sharing, which remains a key cornerstone of the NFL’s structure and success.
In 1959, Arthur Daley of the New York Times called the draft Bell’s “monument…key to the continuous success of the NFL,” but it wasn’t his only banner idea.
Bell bulwarked the NFL image as commissioner from 1946-1959 and set up the league’s long-term television policies, negotiating the league’s first national TV contract. He also introduced “sudden death” overtime to football and even coined the phrase “on any given Sunday.”
Seventy-five years since his first grand idea, Bell’s innovations and vision still have a positive influence on today’s NFL.
A compendium of off – and on – the field notes for the 2010 NFL Draft, which will take place on April 22-24 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall:
SUH-PENDOUS!: Nebraska defensive tackle NDAMUKONG SUH made an impact every time he stepped on the field for the Cornhuskers. Now he’s ready to make just as big an impact off of it.
In front of 77,936 fans at Saturday’s Husker spring game, Suh announced he will donate $2.6 million back to the school – $2 million to Nebraska Athletics for its Strength and Conditioning Program and an additional $600,000 to the UNL College of Engineering to endow a scholarship. He graduated with a degree in construction management in December 2009.
“It says so much about Ndamukong Suh that one of his first acts as a graduate is one of giving back, and helping students who are in need of a scholarship to the University of Nebraska,” says CLARENCE CASTNER, president of the University of Nebraska Foundation. “He is an inspiration and a role model. It may be that his biggest impact will occur off the field.”
PIGSKIN & SHEEPSKIN: An impressive number of players who will be drafted in 2010 already have earned their college degrees, with majors ranging from construction management to criminology.
“Graduation was my main goal and once I knew I had that accomplished, I wanted to look at playing in the NFL,” says Oklahoma defensive tackle GERALD MC COY, who completed his degree in Human Relations this past winter.
“Gerald is a great example of how to be a student-athlete,” says McCoy’s head coach at Oklahoma BOB STOOPS. “He came here, took care of his academic responsibilities, invested himself in the lives of others and had a great career on and off the field.”
A sampling of 25 draft-eligible players who already boast their college degrees:
|T Ciron Black||Louisiana State||General Studies|
|C Jeff Byers||Southern California||Business Administration|
|DE Alex Carrington||Arkansas State||Psychology|
|LB Jamar Chaney||Mississippi State||Fitness Management|
|LB Kavell Connor||Clemson||Sociology|
|TE Jimmy Graham||Miami||Marketing and Management (Double major)|
|DT Lamarr Houston||Texas||Corporate Communications|
|C Ted Larsen||North Carolina State||History|
|LB Sean Lee||Penn State||Finance|
|S Myron Lewis||Vanderbilt||Organizational Development|
|QB Colt McCoy||Texas||Sports Management|
|DT Gerald McCoy||Oklahoma||Human Relations|
|CB Walter McFadden||Auburn||Public Administration|
|P Zoltan Mesko||Michigan||Business|
|LB Eric Norwood||South Carolina||Criminal Justice|
|DT Jared Odrick||Penn State||Sociology|
|S Myron Rolle||Florida State||Exercise Science|
|LB Darryl Sharpton||Miami||Finance|
|DT D’Anthony Smith||Louisiana Tech||Psychology|
|QB Jevan Snead||Mississippi||Marketing|
|DT Ndamukong Suh||Nebraska||Construction Management|
|RB C.J. Spiller||Clemson||Sociology|
|RB Ben Tate||Auburn||Criminology|
|T Ed Wang||Virginia Tech||Apparel, Housing and Resource Management/
Residential Property Management
|DE Willie Young||North Carolina State||Science and Technology|
— 2010 NFL DRAFT —
BOOMER SOONER!: Three University of Oklahoma prospects – quarterback SAM BRADFORD, defensive tackle GERALD MC COY and tackle TRENT WILLIAMS – have been invited to New York for the 2010 NFL Draft and will be on site at Radio City Music Hall, eagerly waiting for their names to be called on Thursday, April 22.
Oklahoma is the first school to have three players attend the draft since Penn State in 1995.
That year, running back KI-JANA CARTER, quarterback KERRY COLLINS and tight end KYLE BRADY were all on site for the selection meeting, which was held for the first time at New York’s famed Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Carter was selected No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, while Collins became the first draft choice in the history of the Carolina Panthers franchise (No. 5 overall). Brady was taken with the ninth overall pick by the New York Jets.
|1995 PENN STATE||2010 OKLAHOMA|
|RB Ki-Jana Carter||Cincinnati Bengals||Round 1, No. 1||QB Sam Bradford||??||??|
|QB Kerry Collins||Carolina Panthers||Round 1, No. 5||DT Gerald McCoy||??||??|
|TE Kyle Brady||New York Jets||Round 1, No. 9||T Trent Williams||??||??|
— 2010 NFL DRAFT –
FAST FIRST ROUND: Last year’s first round was completed in three hours and 23 minutes, seven minutes shorter than 2008 and roughly half the time of the first round of the 2007 draft, which took six hours and eight minutes.
It was the shortest first round since 1990 – which took three hours and 24 minutes. The shortest first round since 1970 was in 1972 – two hours flat.
First-round durations since 2000:
|YEAR||FIRST ROUND||YEAR||FIRST ROUND|
— 2010 NFL DRAFT —
SOONER OR LATER: Few NCAA football programs have traditions that run as deep as the University of Oklahoma. The Sooners are perennial contenders and have won four national titles since 1966.
Many OU players have gone on to star in the NFL, most recently Pro Bowl running back ADRIAN PETERSON of the Minnesota Vikings.
Quarterback SAM BRADFORD, the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, is one of this year’s top prospects and is likely to be selected in the first round.
Surprisingly, Bradford can become the first Oklahoma quarterback to play his entire college career with the Sooners and throw a pass in an NFL game in over 60 years!
The last Sooner QB to throw an NFL pass? JACK JACOBS of the Green Bay Packers way back in 1949.
“The NFL was looking at a different type of quarterback than the wishbone we ran at Oklahoma,” says GALEN HALL, Penn State’s offensive coordinator who filled the same role for the Sooners from 1966-1983. “That might have something to do with the Oklahoma thing. Now they’re throwing the football.”
(Editor’s Note: Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback TROY AIKMAN played two years at Oklahoma, but later transferred to UCLA.)
— 2010 NFL DRAFT —
SEMPER FIDELIS: Ball State defensive end BRANDON CRAWFORD is anything but your typical NFL prospect.
At 33, Crawford was older than five of his assistant coaches in his senior season! Following a windy road that included several years of work at an automobile plant and a five-year stint in the Marines, Crawford thinks he has what it takes to play professional football.
“I believe I have a shot at getting drafted,” says Crawford, who received an honorary discharge from the Marine Corps in 2003. “If you turn on the film, it doesn’t lie. My age might make some people put a blinder on, but I think you’ve got to see the film first.”
Crawford, who initially enrolled at Ball State in 2004 and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2008, totaled 138 tackles and 15.0 sacks during his college career, starting his final 39 games.
The five oldest rookies to appear in an NFL game (non-kickers and punters):
|WR Vince Papale||Philadelphia Eagles||1976||30 years, 307 days|
|DL Gary Dulin||St. Louis Cardinals||1986||29 years, 244 days|
|QB Chris Weinke||Carolina Panthers||2001||29 years, 159 days|
|RB Leon Burns||San Diego Chargers||1971||29 years, 95 days|
|Waddell Smith||Dallas Cowboys||1984||29 years, 30 days|
|* Age on date of last game played that season.|
12 TIDBITS: A dozen interesting notes on the draft class of 2010:
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
|Tennessee DB ERIC BERRY||Studied dentistry at Tennessee and interned at a Georgia dentist office this past summer.|
|Oklahoma QB SAM BRADFORD||Is the first person of Cherokee descent to start at quarterback for a Division I university since Sonny Sixkiller, a full-blooded Cherokee, who played for the University of Washington (1970-72).|
|Wisconsin FB JOHN CONNER||Was nicknamed “The Terminator” by his teammates because of his hard-nosed blocking style and his name’s resemblance to the John Connor character from the 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”|
|Wake Forest DB BRANDON GHEE||Is working to create a charitable organization called the Ghee Force Foundation, whose mission will be to support our nation’s military veterans.|
|Florida DB JOE HADEN||Is the oldest of five brothers whose names all begin with the letter J (Josh, Jordan, Jacob and Jonathon). Joe is just the first college football player in the family. Josh is currently a running back at Boston College, while Jordan enrolled at Florida this January to play safety.|
|Louisiana State DB CHAD JONES||Is one of two players in NCAA history, along with teammate Jared Mitchell, to capture a BCS football title (2007) and a College World Series championship (2009).|
|Michigan P ZOLTAN MESKO||Moved to the United States from Romania when he was 11 years old. His parents entered a green card lottery and were among the 55,000 chosen to receive a green card out of the 200,000 that applied.|
|South Florida WR CARLTON MITCHELL||His mother Angela is the “cut-man” for professional boxer Antonio Tarver.|
|Penn State DT JARED ODRICK||Has invited his mentor LARRY JOHNSON, SR., the PSU defensive line coach and father of Redskins running back LARRY JOHNSON, to sit with him in the Green Room at Radio City Music Hall on draft day.|
|Oklahoma State T RUSSELL OKUNG||Has the opportunity to become the first OSU lineman to be picked in Round 1 since JOHN WARD (1970, Minnesota).|
|Clemson RB C.J. SPILLER||Is the first Clemson running back to be Academic All-ACC and first team All-ACC.|
|Nebraska DT NDAMUKONG SUH||Is the son of two foreign-born parents. His mother Bernadette is from Jamaica, while his father Michael hails from Cameroon.|
|Florida QB TIM TEBOW||Was born in Manila, Philippines while his parents were abroad doing missionary work. Tebow has accompanied his father, Bob, back to the Philippines for the past three summers for mission work.|
|Virginia T ED WANG||May become the first player of full Chinese descent to be selected in the NFL Draft. His parents, Nancy and Robert, were both members of the Chinese Olympic track and field team in the 1970s.|
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