Year after year, the NFL combs the country for the best young college football players. And today, draft day, many of those players will huddle around TV sets with their loved ones: mom, dad, sister, brother, agent, lawyer, accountant, personal trainer, PR flack and shoe company representative.
Many are called, few are chosen.
True, the draft lasts 12 rounds and by the end they are picking names out of Sports Illustrated. One year the Dallas Cowboys selected sprinter Carl Lewis with their last pick, figuring, what the heck. Maybe he looses the tights, puts on a few pounds, who knows? And yet, even with 12 rounds many could-be players are overlooked.
This is where I come in.
Each year I scour the country for at least three and sometimes four minutes, searching for the almost-made-its, the near-misses, hopeful athletes who probably won’t hear the telephone ring today, but under other circumstances, probably wouldn’t have either.
This year’s crop of coulda-beens . . .
* Grade Point Williams (RB, unattached) World’s most promising running back, had a tad of trouble with college exams; took the SAT several times, but thought the object was to connect the dots, not fill them in. Drew a nice picture of a horsie, however.
* Ogden Mash (K, Ponoma State) — British soccer import who can kick it 80 yards. Unfortunately, likes to jump into crowd after every game, swinging a bat and screaming “Die, ya bloody Wembley sods! Bullocks! . . .”
* Nacho Comacho, (OT, 590 lbs.) — Not to be confused with his boxer-cousin Macho, Nacho comes from the same mean streets, but took most of his aggression out on potato chips. Is currently a little overweight. Good news is he can hit a quarterback; bad news is the quarterback must be standing still.
* “Smokin” Joe Willis (LB, Arizona Tech) — Absolutely destroyed the last three schools he played. Literally. Burned them down. Comes up for parole in seven years.
* Boris Smeltsin, (DE, 6-foot-10, 430 lbs) — Russian import who discovered football. Career hampered by refusal to discover deodorant.
* Elvis Gorback (QB, Las Vegas Prep) — Talented passer with excellent arm and good speed. Injury-prone, however, as he only dresses in thin white jumpsuits and refuses to wear shoulder pads because “the King wouldn’t do it.”
* Joey “Dappa” Rappa (RB, Nebraska State) — Flashy running back who does rap songs while carrying the ball, often interfering with his concentration. Against Mississippi, took handoff, broke free, then sang “I shook you loose, I made you humble, now I’m gone — oops, I . . . fumble!”
* Elmer Thud (LB, Idaho Community) — Once considered a sure first-round pick, Elmer, a farm boy, suffered a concussion while trying to tackle his uncle’s cow. Now has difficultly with vision. Last seen asking goal post for a date.
* Toulouse La Foote (K, Chattanooga Textile) — Import field- goal kicker with incredible range. Won French national soccer championship for distance. Sadly, at 5 foot 2, he sends most kicks into the rear ends of his blockers, causing a bit of team unrest. Has transferred 13 times.
* “Fast” Eddie Deets (KR, unattached) — Holds Tennessee record for fastest kickoff return, which they still talk about down there. Eddie blazed across the end zone, up through the stands and straight into the ticket booth. Last seen heading for the state line with cash box.
* Johnny B. Old (5-foot-10, 160 lbs) — Former All-American who’s had long-standing trouble with academics. Been in college for years, but insists on graduating “because my future goals, after athletics, are to work in the Truman administration.”
* Fred Montana (QB, Pennsylvania) — Joe’s third cousin. Never played football in his life, but volunteered his services when Joe left San Francisco. Desperate 49ers fans quickly said yes. Deal collapsed when Fred put helmet on sideways and asked, “How’s it look?”
* Alcatraz Smith (WR, 6-foot-4, 230 lbs.) — Has size, strength. All the pro teams want him. Unfortunately, so do the Indiana, Texas, and Ohio state police. Last seen heading into swamp.
* Ventilation Brown (RB, L.A. Community College) — The nephew of soul singer James Brown, has speed, size and several of his uncle’s slippery moves. Only problem comes when he’s about to score a touchdown. He gets so excited he yells “Stand back! Heeeey! Wanna kiss myself!,” hyperventilates, faints and has to be carried off the field.
* Carl Lewis (6-foot-3, 190) — Former Olympic star now looking for work, has asked Cowboys to draft him again. Even faxed them statement saying “If chosen, I promise to never sing the National Anthem. Love ya, Carl.” Cowboys passed.