There comes a time in each man’s life when he must look himself in the mirror, take an honest appraisal of himself and come to terms with what he truly is in the grand scheme of things. You know what I’m talking about — there’s an inevitable point when a man must give up his dream of becoming a professional baseball player or astronaut, and pinpoint exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are and accept his lot in life.
I’ve discovered that I’m an outstanding couch potato.
I didn’t come to this realization lightly. Nobody really wants to accept that what he or she is best at is sitting on a couch with a bag of chips and paying homage to the great wonder of the television screen. Man is, by nature, an adventurer. There’s a genetic strand that forces us to want to be good at fixing things around the house, or building new and exciting things or just always conjuring up that perfect thing to do to fill time.
I stink at all of that. However, I’m quite good at killing time on a couch. Granted, autograph hounds won’t line up outside my front door to catch a glimpse of me licking nacho dip off my robe or performing my magic ballet of controlling the picture-in-picture with my trusty remote control, Gus, but I’m good at what I do, and that self-satisfaction goes a long way toward mending the bruised ego.
With all that being said (and plenty of people scratching their heads, perplexed that they’re still reading this drivel), this weekend is my time to shine. My Orioles will be in a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the NBA and NHL playoffs are in full gear and, of course, there’s the NFL draft — the unofficial main event of the World Series of Couch Potatoes.
I love the draft. I love reading about it for the weeks leading up to the event, I enjoy making up my own mock drafts to see how accurate they are at the end and there’s not many more exciting things in the world to me than watching Mel Kiper Jr. stumble over all his prognostications when a guy he had slated to go in the fourth round becomes one of the top picks.
But mostly I enjoy the draft for the simple reason that I believe someone at ESPN came up with the idea of televising it for two days because he likes being able to sit on his couch for an entire weekend without brushing his teeth or changing his socks.
Yes, the draft can be a challenge to the nation’s collective hygiene, and, sure, you usually can’t tell how well a team drafted for a good three years, but the drama surrounding the event, and the slow pace of the selections, makes it the ideal event for sitting on your couch for two days — and finding the odd Dorito crumb on your person for the following four days.
There was a time when I also really enjoyed the NBA draft. It was fun to see those college players you became familiar with over four years getting picked by NBA teams, and letting your mind wander off to just how well that individual is suited for the respective team. However, great college players rarely stay in school for four years these days so you don’t get the chance to really watch them develop, and a lot of the high draft picks now come from overseas. While that’s great for the NBA in terms of growing the league’s popularity internationally, it’s tough on the fans because we really don’t know much about these players.
So, the NFL draft pretty much wins by default in my eyes.
But the dedicated football fan knows many of the top prospects coming into the draft. Even if a guy is from a small school that didn’t get a lot of national television time, we’ve seen their highlights on ESPN and read about their exploits in the newspapers. I remember when Jerry Rice played for tiny Mississippi Valley State University. He was in the paper every week for breaking some record or another, and I was captivated by the possibilities of how well he’d perform against the big boys. Well, Rice broke just about every record for receiving in the NFL, was only the third wide receiver to be named MVP of a Super Bowl and is now considered a true NFL legend.
Watching the draft is not all about watching the draft. It’s about chips and dip, and finding the right position on the couch where you can easily watch the action, but never be too far away from a good nap. It’s about sitting down before the first pick, arranging the cordless phone so you won’t have to get up later to answer it and keeping a can of spray deodorant nearby in case the gathering flies block your vision. It’s a science, and an art — even if it sometimes involves mustard stains.
As for myself, oh, I’m ready for this. The number for food delivery is on my speed dialer, I’m planning on bathing and shaving Friday to give myself a fighting chance of staving off infection and I have two large bones at the ready to keep the dogs from trying to get too cozy on the couch.
Bring it on, NFL. I’m ready to dance.