It’s that time of year again, football fans: winter has thawed, free agency has brought new faces to your city, spring workouts are up and running and maybe, just maybe, your luck is about to change. After all, this week is the NFL draft, and you’re about to get a new knockout to set your imagination wild. The possibilities!
You’ve been here before. The relationship you had with your last girlfriend is exactly like the NFL Draft. Everything you feel about the NFL draft, and the rookies it brings to your team, you feel the same exact way each time you start dating a new girl. Okay, so maybe you’re not picking first overall (too bad the most pathetic dudes don’t get the first pick, like in the NFL), but a new girlfriend is the equivalent to draft day. Check it:
1. The Scouting:
The Girl: It’s Saturday night, and you see her across the room. She’s got that look, a smile and the hair tucked behind her ear just right; she’s different. You start paying attention, watching a little closer, seeing who she’s talking to. There’s definite intrigue there, so you introduce yourself .
The Draft Pick: One Saturday afternoon, you spot him on TV, playing NCAA ball. He clearly can rush the passer, or throw the long ball, or burn corners at a pro level. Soon, you’re watching him on each play, seeing if he keeps up that consistent domination. Soon, you find yourself Googling his scouting report.
2. The Combine:
The Girl: You get her number, and add her as a friend on Facebook. You want to know more, so you ask your friends if she’s single, and check out her pictures, looking to see if she’s worth the time and effort, if you’ll be compatible.
The Draft Pick: After the game, you go to his player page on ESPN.com. Is he draft eligible? The right size? You start consulting draft guides, watching for his team’s weekly highlights, checking out his stats. Are other teams talking about him? Does he fit your team’s need?
3. The Complex Visit:
The Girl: You ask her out, a casual date. Drinks. It’s understood that you’re both playing the field, shopping around, trying to find the best fit, but you both know that this first date is a big deal. This could be a real match, so you gotta make a good first impression. You both study, she reading up on your favorite bands, you thinking of a million questions to ask, to feel out any flaws you hadn’t yet noticed. You compare her to your exes and other prospects, to make sure you’re trading up. After all, this is a big investment.
The Draft Pick: The first time your team has him in its facility, they put this prime prospect through drills and test his every physical attribute, following that with a rigorous character interview. It’s heavily watched, dissected by media and blogs, and compared and contrasted to every other prospect in history.
4. The Draft:
The Girl: Weeks go by, and you’ve seen each other a few times. She could be the right fit, you tell yourself. You’ve cleared her background, more or less, pushing away doubts of that slutty weekend in Cancun you saw in Facebook pictures, and when you bang for the first time and then you have the talk, you’ve dived in head first. Within a few days, you wake up to her wearing your baseball cap and making you pancakes.
The Draft Pick: After a day of nerves, and seeing other prospects fly off the board, your team steps to the podium. They make the pick, and you greet it with a flurry of optimism. Here’s a prime young player, beaming and ready to make good on his promise (and gigantic new contract). You think he could be the next big franchise player, the bedrock of the franchise, and you dream big things as he slips on your team’s cap and you chow down on buffalo wings.
5. Training Camp:
The Girl: Everything is going great. You go on great dates, laugh your faces off, she surprises you with both her wit and even a gift here or there. You’re infatuated, and all the friends you have introduced her to agree: this girl’s a keeper. And the sex? It’s the best you’ve had in years.
The Draft Pick: He reports to camp early, is the first person in the weight room and the last off the field. He fits in great with his teammates, is dominating drills and making great plays in scrimmages. The media adores him, profiling the rook’s inspirational story and following his every move. Already, he’s considered the steal of the draft. You read all the stories, all the blogs, and already have the new star gracing your computer desktop background.
6. The Rookie Year:
The Girl: A few months in, something strange is afoot. After being so hilarious and fun, she starts to get moody. She is sick, or tired, and isn’t very interested in sex. She picks fights. You start maybe looking around, at other girls, your friends’ girlfriends, wondering why they got so lucky. Meanwhile, you’ve invested so much cash and time on this one, you’ve gotta stick it out. Hey, you tell yourself, it’s just a rough patch, you’ll get over it. The good times were too good to not believe that.
The Draft Pick: Things were going so well, but now, things are different. It’s game time, and the training camp domination is nowhere to be seen. You got a little nervous in the pre-season, when he didn’t deliver the hit or catch the ball or throw the pass that you had expected. It’s a fast game, and he looks a step slower. Still, you tell yourself, this is a big step, and you’re sure he’ll adjust — the rookie year is always a rough one. Plus, with all that guaranteed contract money invested (not to mention that $200 authentic jersey you bought), you have no choice but to give him time.
7. The Bust
The Girl: Months go by, and slowly but surely, you realize this just isn’t working out. She’s not a fit for your personality or lifestyle. She’s bringing you down, when all around you, there are so many more awesome girls that you can’t have. Your parents “aren’t crazy about her,” your friends make it clear she’s lame, and she’s withering your very soul away until all you want to do is crawl into a hole and put your hands over your ears and scream. Drunk. You break up, regretting the entire affair and desperate to just wipe yourself clean of the life-sucking she-leach that she became, though you harbor resentment and hope she never finds happiness.
The Draft Pick: A few seasons deep, and it’s clear that this player just doesn’t fit the system. He can’t tackle, or throw, and he’s become a lazy, entitled shell of the bright prospect you thought you were getting. Instead of franchise cornerstone, he’s dead cap weight, and your team can’t sign anyone who can actually play. You and the other fans boo your faces off as he flips the entire stadium off. Finally, he’s cut, and you watch the rest of his career out of the corner of your eye, hoping he’s playing in the Arena League within a year or two.