Oh, sure, I know the NFL scouts use the latest in high-tech, user-friendly data services. But they still miss a few. Which is where I come in.
Once a year, on draft day, I provide all 28 clubs with a list of sleeper prospects they might have overlooked. To do this, I employ a network of scouts, strategically located in pool halls across America.
True, these young men are what some might call “slightly flawed” material. Little things — a second-degree manslaughter charge, for example — may have cost them their shot at All- America honors. But here’s what I say. I say, since when did any of that stuff matter down there on fourth-and-goal? Never. That’s when.
So here are this year’s top 13:
Bo (Michael) Jackson, tailback — At 6-feet-3, this Bo Jackson may be the second-fastest running back in the nation. Good moves. Good timing. His only drawback is that in the middle of breakaway runs, he occasionally stops to slip on one glove and bounce a top hat off his knee.
Do It Pruit, wide receiver — They’re still talking about the night Pruit scored five TDs against Texas A&M and rode in the parade the next day atop a Mercedes-Benz convertible. Unfortunately, the Mercedes belonged to some lady in Iowa. Pruit should be out on parole by next fall.
“Copperhead” Wilson, linebacker — The former Anthony Wilson, one of the most highly recruited prep athletes in America four years ago. Went to LSU one season, and had 62 solo tackles in six games. His career suffered a setback, however, when he bit an opposing lineman on the leg and gangrene set in. Since then, scouts have kept their distance, not to mention coaches, teammates and the guy who does his laundry.
Rafael El-Cortez, placekicker — A onetime soldier of fortune, Rafael learned his trade by drop-kicking live grenades into the ocean. Scouts say he has the quickest foot you’ve ever seen, although he can’t hear too well anymore.
Al (Alan) Finkowitz, no position — Admittedly a gamble, Finkowitz has never played a football game in his life. Actually, he is a physics major at Stanford and has been outside the library only twice since 1983, once because his bicycle was stolen. But recently, Finkowitz discovered a way to scramble the new radio helmets so that “Blue 98! Hut! Hut” comes out “Your mother eats mud! Ha! Ha!” thereby resulting in instant death of the quarterback, by his own teammates. This alone should make Finkowitz a fourth-round pick.
Bad Face Jackson, safety — The former Curt Sylvester, an ex- Free Press football writer, now working undercover.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mitchell, punter — Had outstanding freshman season at SMU before the coach dismissed him for “social” reasons. Bit of a loner. Refuses to room with anyone who can’t play the flugelhorn. Excellent punter. Hang times average six seconds, distance ranges from 30 to 70 yards, depending on the marching band. Should go in the second round. Who cares if he wears wigs?
Good Night Hampton, linebacker — First of all, those stories about the dead guy in the bar were exaggerated. Good Night (‘Night for short) is nothing more than your average building disguised as a football player. Stands 7-feet-1, weighs anywhere from 340 to 380, depending on breakfast. Earned his nickname at Chattanooga for knocking out five running backs in a single game. Four of them regained consciousness.
Elroy T. Dooby, center — A big, strong Idaho farm boy, Elroy just missed out on a promising college career when, on his application, he answered “Weight?” by writing: “OK. Ah’l weight rite heer.” He spent 12 days in his bedroom before the error was discovered. Since then, he has pursued a productive career in the filling station industry. Says he’s ready for the NFL because,
“In the pros, they don’t ax nuthin’ hard, aintcha?”
Vance Velour, quarterback — Rifle-armed passer from the Pac-10 Conference, steeped in the great tradition of John Elway and Jim Plunkett. Unfortunately, he doesn’t admire either of those guys. Vance’s hero is Boy George from Culture Club. You know that stuff football players smear above their cheeks? Vance uses it as eye shadow.
Potato Head Webb, wide receiver — Spud’s older and less famous brother, Potato Head stands a lanky 7-feet-9 with the wingspan of a flying dinosaur. Unfortunately, he can’t catch a thing. Coaches have found him useful, however, for blocking kicks and as a practice goalpost.
Jonah (Point Spread) Jenkins, halfback — I know what you’re thinking. Those three fumbles in the final 44 seconds against Baylor. So the spread was 10 points? So they lost by 11? Hey. They never proved anything. Lots of kids drive Alfa Romeos their freshman year.
Slammer MacDonald, outside linebacker — Scouts have been talking about Slammer for years. He’s 6-feet-7, 270, and runs like a greased buffalo. Plays for little-known Montezuma College in upstate Colorado. Only one drawback: Slammer promised his mother he would graduate from college before he accepted an offer to go pro. He turns 37 this year.