In this business, we root for good stories and time before deadline to write them.
Sometimes we don’t have the latter … and last night was one of them.
It hasn’t been since the Super Bowl years that the Bills picked as late as 30th in the NFL draft. And when the networks carrying the broadcast – ABC, ESPN and the NFL Network – listed the show’s length from 8-11:30 p.m., I laughed out loud.
The National Football League hasn’t completed an opening round in 3 ½ hours since when it had only 28 teams in 1994 and, back then, there was a 15-minute time limit between first-round picks. Then, too, it wasn’t broadcast on three separate days and was without the fluff and distractions of the circus that has become the NFL draft.
THUS, THIS year’s math was indicting for the Bills picking third-to-last. If the first round started on the dot of 8 p.m. and every team took its full 10 minutes between selections, Buffalo’s choice would have come at … 1 a.m.
My deadline was midnight.
But I could hope.
Unfortunately, the NFL, presenting its most anticipated and analyzed event, other than actual games that count, broadcast the opening round in full dawdle mode.
A set by the musical group Kings of Leon didn’t finish until 8:10, delaying the draft’s start. Then, there was the obligatory booing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who introduced three high-profile former Browns, to the delight of the Cleveland faithful, whose city hosted the event.
For the record, iconic quarterback Bernie Kosar received the enthusiastic cheers that eluded the Commish.
The first overall selection didn’t come until 8:23 and it was preceded by a cringeworthy lead-in that seemed forced and was decidedly uncomfortable. That was especially true with the announcement that a fan of each team that was on the clock would occupy, on-stage, the easy chair used by Goodell in his home basement during last year’s Covid-19-limited lottery.
All that ridiculous waste of time did was prolong a telecast which was deserted by a large part of the Eastern Time Zone audience for the 11 o’clock news … or bed.
THE TV people apparently applied the spurs to Goodell’s backside and he tried to speed up proceedings during the second half of the round, but by then it was 10:20 and the damage had already been inflicted, especially for Eastern newspapers with midnight deadlines and TV stations whose 11 o’clock news shows missed the final six picks of the round. Not only did the Bills not make it, both of Baltimore’s selections, plus New Orleans, Green Bay and Tampa Bay likely missed out on having their picks reach a full audience in their respective time zones.
Right now, it’s 11:30 and the 28th pick hasn’t been made and, if all the full time allotment hasn’t been used, Buffalo will be choosing on the brink of midnight.
No time to write a full column or get the Zoom comments of Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane or coach Sean McDermott.
Now, you’ll be reading my piece on the Bills’ first-round draft choice as a sidebar to a column on rounds 2 and possibly 3 in Saturday’s Times Herald.
Ultimately, Buffalo made its pick at 11:49 and it was announced at 11:51: Greg Rousseau, a defensive end from Miami. He was rumored to fall to the Bills as his teammate on the Hurricanes, fellow end, Jaelen Phillips, went to the Dolphins at No. 18.
Rousseau, 6-foot-7, 265 pounds, helps answer the team’s biggest need … an edge rusher who can help increase Buffalo’s middle-of-the-pack sack total from last season. He was the third defensive end tabbed in the first round following Phillips and Houston’s Payton Turner (28th).
(Chuck Pollock, a Times Herald senior sports columnist, can be reached at email@example.com)