Schottey Musings

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The Sad and Ironic Competition Within the Draft “Expert” Community

with 3 comments

No one has ever gotten anywhere in this business by making someone else look stupid.

Maybe Machiavelli would disagree, but I’m pretty sure I understand sports media a little more than a guy from the 1500’s. You can only step on so many people before you trip and come tumbling down. You can only call out so many people until you find your self alienated and looking like a jerk.

 

For 99% of us, This is a Hobby, Remember That

I make no bones that the draft is a hobby for me. I work within sports media and oversee numerous people who are paid to write about the draft. I plan draft content, write said content, do video, radio and print interviews about the NFL draft and have been doing it long enough to have my work respected by people I’m not even in the same echelon with. I’ve turned down NFL and CFL teams because they don’t pay well and I have a family to support. As a side-gig, I work with a site that deals ONLY with the NFL and NBA Draft.

Yet, this is my hobby.

Throughout the draft community there are plenty of us that get paid…something, probably not much. There are others who get paid nothing–it’s a labor of love. While much more virtual ink could be spilled on this topic, let’s leave it at this: If you’re working a 40-hour job, no one expects you to know as much as the 1% out there doing draft work full time.

If you think you do, you’re wrong…and a fool.

 

“The Car Crash Theory”

Two of my favorite guys in the business–in fact, two of my closest friends, period–are Chad Reuter (NFL Network) and Cecil Lammey (ESPN Denver). As a young guy (26), I’ve been blessed to have these two take me under their wings at times and give me more of a chance than plenty of others in their position have.

Those two have explained to me what they call “The Car Crash Theory” and I’ve adopted/modified it as my own and often tell younger writers who ask me for advice.

See, when police men interview people at the scene of a car crash, they’re not surprised to get 10 different stories from 10 different people who had 10 different vantage points. Some of the people are going to be inherently and unknowingly biased, some are going to stress different facts of the story, some will forget points and subconsciously fill in false information they know to be true.

The NFL draft works a lot like this at the team level and even more so at the media level.

Having a different opinion doesn’t make anyone more or less right–even after the fact when some NFL team agreed with so-and-so’s assessment. Likely, the guy who had the opposite opinion was in great company as well and may be proven just as right by that player’s actions down the road.

What matters is that everyone is putting in the work and being honest. Sadly, that often isn’t the case…

 

Please Understand Your Own Limitations and Why YOUR Opinion May Not Matter

I once listened to a media “scout” (who worked for a website with one of the most ridiculous names ever) rail against the pre-draft process for almost an hour. He claimed that no one put enough emphasis on tape and too many people just looked at measurables and speculated at rankings.

Long story short, I eventually found out that this “scout” was just looking at YouTube clips from other draft sites and fan compilations from college. Perhaps that story seems extreme, but the broader truth is still relevant: each of us (media and pro alike) have limitations and it’s silly to deny them.

Maybe it’s time–having less time because draft work isn’t your fulltime job isn’t a bad thing, just don’t come at me with so-and-so being the 250th overall player when we both know you never had the time to put together a real opinion about him.

Maybe it’s resources–YouTube isn’t “tape.” Neither is broadcast TV. I have access to a very small amount of tape and I know the guys who have access to more and I probably know if you’re not one of them. I talk to a very small amount of real NFL scouts and personnel guys, and I know the guys who talk to everyone and I most likely know that you’re not one of them. Again, this is just a reality of the business and nothing to be embarrassed about.

 

You Can Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

This is one of those lessons my dad taught me that never really sunk in until I was much older. In fact, I still struggle with it on the backend–I hate when guys are jerks over something stupid like whether so-and-so is the 6th ranked QB or the 8th ranked QB.

Back to the car crash analogy…the police don’t decide which story is the “truest” and then lock everyone else up and they don’t get everybody together to fight about who is “more right” than everyone else. If someone thinks the car was blue-gray and another person thinks the car was gray-blue, no one takes them down to the paint store to quibble about the exact hue.

Personally, I disagree with a lot of my friends in the draft business. Even the guy who taught me a lot of what I know, Wes Bunting (National Football Post), values different things than I do in the process. We give each other crap constantly over prospects we disagree about, (I called Gronkowksi) and still respect each other at the end of the day.

In the end, the disagreements are where you’re going to learn more than any other time (and if you don’t think you have anything left to learn, you’re wrong). Why shut down those disagreements by being a jerk and pretending you’ve never been wrong before?

 

Leave Mel Kiper Alone…Without Him, You Wouldn’t Exist

On the flip side of the in-fighting within the lower ranks of the draft community is the sad anti-establishment focus against the guys who have made it.

Face it–without Mel Kiper, you wouldn’t be a “draftnik.” Without Kiper, you wouldn’t know 1% as much about the process as you do now. Kiper wasn’t the first–Joel Buschbaum was doing it long before–but Kiper made the NFL Draft mainstream and taught fans more than networks ever thought they needed and taught networks just how much money they could make off of one weekend in April.

Without Kiper, there is no Mayock, McShay, Brooks, Walter Football or Draft Countdown.

By the way, you are wrong just as much and just as badly as Kiper, many of you will just never admit it. Kiper has about 20 years of draft successes and mistakes that many people trashing him will never attain and none of theirs are on ESPN.

Sadly, too many people think they can win points by pointing out how their mock was better than Kiper’s and in truth, it may have been, but no one cares.

In the end, it just looks like a guy on the ground swinging from his knees at someone who he is ridiculously jealous of.

So, it all comes down to the end game. Do you really believe that this is a zero sum industry–that the only way you’ll get to the top is by making everyone else look like fools?

Fine.

Just don’t be surprised when you’re a footnote two or three drafts down the road because all the people you were jerks to advanced together and remembered exactly how you treated them.

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Written by Michael Schottey

February 14, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. I’m slow clapping this at each paragraph. Well said. Let’s just hope the entire community, me included, reads and takes something away from this.

    Matt Miller

    February 14, 2012 at 3:33 PM

  2. This is a great article and points out many great things. Thanks for taking the time to write this.
    Russ

    Russ Lande

    February 14, 2012 at 5:39 PM

  3. Excellent article — and I agree that quibbling over what order the third-tier prospects should be in at a given position is foolhardy.

    Lou Pickney

    February 22, 2012 at 8:38 PM


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