by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

This weekend marks the NFL draft, and across the country, phone lines are buzzing. Of course, not every conversation is as fruitful as the next …

“OK, Rocky, gimme the news. What have you found?”

“Well, boss, scouting ain’t as easy as it used to be.”

“You’re already making excuses?”

“I’m just saying there’s good news and bad news with these ‘sleeper’ picks. Take this quarterback prospect I got out of South Carolina.”

“What’s the good news?”

“He’s a combination of Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“He’s also a combination of Big Mac and Chips Ahoy.”


“He could have swallowed Dom DeLuise.”


“Well, there’s another quarterback prospect. Didn’t play college ball. Nobody knows about him yet.”

“What’s the good news?”

“He can throw, he can run, he can take a hit.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“He has trouble spelling names.”

“What’s so bad about that?”

“His own?”


A real swinger

“Well, the top defensive guys everyone knows about. Like Charles Woodson, the cornerback from Michigan, and Andre Wadsworth, the defensive end from Florida State.”

“Great! You got some sleepers who can compete with those guys?”

“Sort of. Take this kid out of Texas. Defensive tackle. Great strength. Great quickness. Led his previous two teams in tackling.”

“When do we see him?”

“Well, there’s good news and bad news.”

“What’s the good news?”

“He’s only 19, but he wants to come out.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“He’s in prison.”


“Linebacker. Six-foot-six. Great leg strength. Great hand-eye coordination.”

“What’s the good news?”

“He’s a natural athlete. Even though he’s a football player, neighbors say they’ve never seen anyone swing a baseball bat like him.”

“What’s the bad news?”

“He was swinging it at his landlord.”

“Oh boy.”

“He has a little problem with anger …”


“Well, the draft has some great cornerbacks already, guys like Woodson, Brian Kelly from USC, Terry Fair from Tennessee. But I managed to find some guys who match them speed for speed and jump for jump.”

“Finally! All right, who’s the best of the lot?”

“Jam Jenkins from Alabama.”

“What’s the bad news on him?”

“He wants to play pro basketball. But there’s ‘Slammer’ Perkins from Arkansas.”

“And his bad news?”

“He wants to play pro hockey. Then there’s ‘Walloping Wally’ Williams, from Florida.”

“Don’t tell me. He wants to play …”

“Pro baseball.”

“Is there anyone who wants to be in the NFL?”

“Well, I got this really agile kid. Smooth. Great leaper. Can jump all day long.”

“And the good news?”

“He wants to be in the NFL.”

“The bad news?”

“On the cheerleading squad.”


Youth movement

“I haven’t told you about the running backs.”

“You have some good news there?”

“Oh yeah. One guy I found ran for 4,000 yards last year.”

“The bad news?”

“He got tired and the police caught him.”

“I’ll pass.”

“There’s a fullback from Idaho with enormous potential. He runs a 4.4, can bench-press 300 pounds, and looks great in a uniform. He’s smart. He’s already hired an agent.”

“The bad news?”

“The agent won’t let him play a game until he’s signed a contract.”

“That’s not unreasonable.”

“The kid is 12 years old. He’s holding out from junior high.”

“Come on! This is pathetic. Don’t you have anyone who can run the ball?”

“There’s the Smith kid, out of New Orleans.”

“The good news?”

“It takes five men to bring him down.”

“The bad news?”

“It takes five men to lift him up.”

“What about receivers?”

“Nothing great. I got Tra Jones, Tre Jones and Tree Jones. But speed is a problem. At the combines, they all ran a 4.7.”

“That’s not so bad.”

“In the 20-yard dash?”

“How about special teams?”

“Well, you’re in luck there, boss. I got a Middle Eastern placekicker who never misses.”

“Gimme the good news.”

“He kicks 75 yards, right through the uprights.”

“And the bad news?”

“He likes to pray on Sundays.”

“All day?”

“No. Just from sunup to sundown.”

“So what you’re saying is, we’re going into the draft with no sleepers, no prospects, and no advantages.”

“That’s the bad news, boss.”

“What’s the good news?”

“Think of all the money we’ll save.”


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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