I imagine Roger Goodell breathed a sigh of relief when Jameis Winston made it known he would not be at this year’s NFL Draft. It’s a rare thing to not have the likely number one overall pick on hand when his name is called, but Goodell would actually prefer it that way this year. If Jameis Winston was in Chicago for the 2015 NFL Draft he would have to answer lots of questions about his long list of off the field troubles while at Florida State. There is also no telling what kind of stupid comments the guy could make. He is certainly not the brightest guy ever to throw a football.
The powers that be of the NFL were probably not as happy when they found out that Marcus Mariota would not be attending the draft either. He will be watching the event with his family back in Hawaii. Mariota is not the consensus number one pick like Winston, but he will be the second quarterback taken this year unless something whacky occurs. So even though it is a positive for the NFL that Knucklehead Winston will be absent from the draft as his name is called first, having two of the top players missing may be a concern for the future of the NFL Draft. I will assure you that Roger Goodell doesn’t want this to begin a trend of guys just deciding to relax at home instead of coming in for the awkward hugs with the Commish as they go onstage to hold up their new team’s jersey.
I can see Dictator Goodell squashing any trend that could dampen the ratings for the draft. Players get fined for missing mandatory workouts, media appearances, and even their clothing, so skipping the draft could certainly be a fineable offense. College players finally getting some real money would certainly not want to write a check immediately upon arriving in the league. We’re not talking about late round guys here. We’re talking marquee players that get the TV viewers hyped and draw in the extreme fanatics that actually attend the NFL Draft live.
I doubt Winston and Mariota’s absence will hurt the ratings for the NFL Network’s coverage of the draft. Last year’s event crushed a couple of NBA and NHL playoff games in terms of TV ratings. It wasn’t even close. You know football is king when an event which entails the commissioner calling names, hugging players, and some talking heads breaking down the skill set of the guy just chosen, is the more popular TV option than playoff contests in two other major sports.
I am as big an NFL fan as anyone and watch as much NFL Network coverage as possible. To show you the depths of my degenerate love for the NFL, I viewed a replay of Super Bowl XLIII between the Steelers and Cardinals that aired this past weekend. The outcome was the same as when I saw it live six years ago, Steelers won. I usually watch the draft until I get bored with it. There isn’t a lot of action. I can easily check the headlines about an hour after it starts to see who went where. The only thing I miss by not watching the whole thing is a few poorly dressed young men who need to spend some money on a new wardrobe with their signing bonus. The highlight reels of players chosen are pretty good, but the main guys are players I have seen plenty of film on because of all the pre draft coverage.
Jameis Winston not being at the draft this year isn’t going to make me lose interest. I would probably be more apt to watch knowing I don’t have to watch him give a bunch of public relations speak about how he has to do better. I am sick of hearing how he “loves this game so much” and “how he is at peace on the football field.” I know about all I need to know about Jameis Winston, so his absence is going to be irrelevant to me. I’m sure some crazed fans would love to see the guy there and I know there will be tons of Tampa Bay Bucs jerseys sold with Winston’s name on the back.
Mariota doesn’t have the baggage that Winston has and is such a quiet guy that he would not add much to the coverage anyway. His reason for skipping the draft is so he can be at home with his entire family. I can see where a guy like him would want to avoid as much spotlight as possible. This will be the last NFL event he will be able to avoid without a fine though.
Roger Goodell will probably wait until next year to see if there is going to be an ongoing issue with big time players avoiding the draft event. Two players in one year is an oddity so there is no need to panic. The Commish needs to consider the problem of fining guys for not attending also. The league may not want to have a policy in place that forces guys to attend, when it may be a good thing that certain guys like Winston skip the spotlight. It keeps the player from embarrassing himself or the league on their big night. There will be plenty of time for Jameis Winston to say and do dumb things during the regular season. At least then there will be real games to distract us all from most of his off the field foolishness.