QUOTE/STORY OF THE WEEK…
“I love my job, but it’s all-encompassing. If I had to serve jury duty, I’d be dead. I don’t think a judge could conceive how important this is to me. My whole life depends on every day getting the material I need. I can’t let things pass me by, because I’m a one-man business. I was in the hospital, and I had my parents and friends bringing me the mail every day. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to have surgery.” — Joel Buchsbaum
INDIANAPOLIS — As we near the 75th draft in the NFL and spend a week at the combine again, it seems only fitting to honor a man who gave his heart and soul and ultimately his life for the love of the NFL draft. Joel Buchsbaum was the original draftnik. He lived in apartment 4L in Brooklyn, N.Y., and before the fanfare of the draft became incredibly big, Buchsbaum would study college games, write reports and talk on the radio. He was truly an expert on all draft subjects. He could discuss the current crop of college talent down to the smallest detail, and in the same breathe he could talk about each team’s needs with uncanny accuracy. He literally was the “Rain Man” of football.
The draft has become bigger than anyone could have expected, including the ever humble Buchsbaum. When Joel first started his draft book, the draft was 17 rounds, all in one day, and information on each prospect was scarce. Now, the seven-round draft will be spread over three days, and the combine is like the offseason Super Bowl.
“’Draft day is now the second-biggest day of the year behind the Super Bowl,” former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, once said. “’Joel had a lot to do with what became the glorification of draft day. ESPN started putting it on the air live, but Joel helped them get interested in it.”
Joel was better than most scouts I’ve known, even though he would never admit his brilliance. He helped me learn my craft and understand the scouting process, and he showed me that passion combined with work habits is what it takes to be successful. I miss Joel’s advice, his reports, his views on the NFL, his excitement about the draft, his evaluation of the draft picks for any team I worked with. But what I miss most is calling 718-252-4481 and hearing his voice. Rest in peace, Joel. You are always remembered.
Be sure to check out: The NFP’s brand-new “Draft Central” page. It’s got everything you need to get ready for April’s draft.
THINGS I HEARD AROUND THE COMBINE LAST WEEK…
“We’re open to just about everything … Whether you keep the second pick or whether you trade down, it doesn’t change what you have to do — that’s make good decisions in the draft. There are blue-chip players available at a lot of different spots in the draft.” — Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions coach
1. Great story from Sean Payton: I asked him what was the best call or text he received after winning the Super Bowl and he said it was a text from Brett Favre on his way home from the conference championship game. Favre texted his well wishes as he drove to his home in Mississippi from the game and said he was pulling for him. Payton always encouraged Favre to keep playing before he joined the Vikings because he felt Favre should not stop until his body couldn’t perform.
2. The Rams have not drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1967, although they traded for the rights to Purdue’s Jim Everett 1986, so all the talk about drafting one makes some sense. One NFL head coach told me that Sam Bradford is in a class by himself and would be a great starter.
3. Can the new stadium in New York get a Super Bowl in 2014? The last time the owners had a vote on this subject, the idea never got off the ground. And don’t forget, the Super Bowl vote is the only second-ballot vote the owners take. If this passes at the league meeting in May, it will be a surprise.
4. The Ravens might be interested in former Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, but I’ve been told he will struggle passing a physical — not because of his concussions but more because of his ankle and knee.
5. The Lions, Bears, Dolphins and Chiefs sound like they might be the most active teams in free agency year. The Lions appear to be poised to sign a running back, perhaps former Viking Chester Taylor.
6. The Bears might be the frontrunners for Julius Peppers, but if they fail to sign him, they might turn to the Packers’ Aaron Kampman. Someone in the league I trust told me the Bears might be the place Peppers ends up
worked out: “With the 8th pick overall the Raiders select OT Bruce Campbell of Maryland 6063 314 36 1/4 arm 10 1/2 hand 34 reps of 225 and a 4.85.” It’s not a farfetched statement.
8. Speaking of the Raiders, they’re shopping every player on the team except tight end Zach Miller and anyone who would be impossible to trade because of their contracts. Running back Michael Bush is the name I hear generating interest.
9. The Cards might lose Karlos Dansby (the Dolphins?) but will try and re-sign Antrel Rolle and appear to be the favorites right now. The reason they didn’t just pay the $4 million was because they wanted to gain more years on the contract, and the only way to accomplish that was to let him test free agency.
LEADERSHIP IMPROVEMENT IDEA…
“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.” — Arthur Conan Doyle
“The Making of an Expert” by K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula and Edward T. Cokely
New research shows that outstanding performance is the product of years of deliberate practice and coaching, not of any innate talent or skill.
Thirty years ago, two Hungarian educators, L