Why do we watch the NFL Draft?

Al Bello

Record ratings mean that the league will pat itself on the back and keep pushing until the bubble bursts.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Draft

"Pete Rozelle should win a Tony award, an Emmy award and an Oscar award for creating the most overrated, over-propagandized annual event in American sport."

That might be my favorite Howard Cosell quote of all time. He was halfway kidding about the Tony Award, but we did have three days of "breaking news" reports from the NFL and ESPN mouthpieces that the draftees would now ... for the first. time. ever. get to choose their own walk-up music.

The draft has gotten to be such an event that this was an honest-to-God news story. Which songs will players draft when they get drafted? Who's on Johnny Manziel's big board if Clowney takes Drake? The fact that the draft was pushed back into May only served to make the tiniest story into another part of the build-up.

The numbers justify it. The draft pulled a 6.8 overnight rating on ESPN and a 1.7 on the NFL Network. To put that into perspective, the total number of viewers for the DRAFT is just about equal to the 8.6 average number of viewers for a MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME. This huge affirmation from their fans will serve nicely to drown out any echoes of reasonable doubt the league just went through with the colossal bust of the Draft Day movie.

Of course, the NFL will point to a 48 percent year-over-year ratings increase as proof that pushing the draft back to May was a savvy business move, ignoring the fact that if Clowney, Watkins, and Manziel had all gone in the top 10, people would have tuned out just as quickly as they tuned in, and the NFL could be licking its wounds instead of pounding its chest.

A good test to see if you're spending your television time wisely is to imagine describing an event that you're watching to a guy who's on vacation from a different country. If you start to get embarrassed while you're explaining the show, then maybe it's time to start asking yourself why you watch it in the first place. Whether its the NFL Draft or Man vs. Food, your conscious has a way of sneaking up on you as you open up to others.

I heard Colin Cowherd say the other day (sorry) that we watch the Draft for the same reason people voted for Obama: Hope. Beneath that is the subtext that we as a nation are turning more and more to sports as our primary source of hope, something we've known for a while. But to place all of this hope into such a misguided venture as the NFL Draft is foolhardy. It's been well documented that the draft is a complete and total crapshoot when it comes to selecting talent. SB Nation's own Jon Bois demonstrated how randomized draft success is when he set up a completely random algorithm that would consistently out-draft Matt Millen.

I wrote back in December that the NFL was dealing with an Anchorman 2 problem of over-saturation, and for the first time that I can recall, it seemed like that sense was universally palpable. If there's one thing worse than the NFL's marketing machine, it's the NFL's marketing machine with a quantifiable victory to point to. I fully expect the NFL Draft to be presented as an even bigger event over the coming years. It's unlikely that we'll see a return to the April event until the league finally hits the perfect storm of a relatively boring big board like 2013 and a mid-May draft day. There's even talk of moving it from city to city, the world's shittiest traveling circus soon to feature performances by Pitbull and Imagine Dragons.

Now, if you'll excuse me I have to start prepping PPR rankings for fantasy season.

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