Mel Kiper, Joe Theismann, and our Good Friend Norman

As a sports fanatic I am thrilled to be able to blog today about the most exciting sporting event to take place somewhere near the end of April. I am referring to, of course, the NFL Draft. The annual three-day event that allows for a full range of Mel Kiper vs. Jimmy Johnson hair comparisons. That wonderful time of year when we are blessed by intellectually stimulating conversations proffered by football players who may, or may not, have worn padded helmets during their careers and, for better or worse, are being asked to sound somewhat intelligent for three nights in a row.

For those of you who don’t know what the annual NFL draft is, just think of it as the football version of choosing up sides in 6th grade gym class, except that no one’s wearing those hideous gym shorts hiked up past the navel, complimented by a grimy, off-white t-shirt and a beat-up pair of Keds. The point of this gathering is to give rabid football fans, like myself, another outlet by which we can follow the game while pretending — in front of our wives — that we really understand football so well we could run a championship franchise with no problem. Trust us, WE would have started limp cabbage at QB before Mark Sanchez.

HAMMERS_FOOTBALL_LOGOFor me, the most entertaining part of the entire draft event are the priceless pieces of verbiage that slip out when Gruden, Kiper, Mayock, and McShay all start competing to see which one can sound the most profound and/or deliriously giddy that Bo Blutarski, tackle out of Klutztown State, was the fastest at finding the lint in his his navel at the NFL combine a few weeks earlier.

This year, one of the favorite pieces of inane vacuity among the gang was the phrase “football intelligence”; as in the following “hypothetical” exchange regarding the aforementioned champion navel lint digger:


  • Mel: I love this pick for the Raiders. This kid is tough, he doesn’t smell bad in a locker room, and he’s got plenty of football intelligence.
  • Jon: Uh…Mel, I agree. This kid…I love this kid. He reminds me of me when I had some footbal intelligence. Oh, wait. This is so cool! I was on the Raiders too!
  • Mayock: I tell ya this, there won’t be a more intelligent player wearing the putrid seafoam green this fall. When I was with the Giants we might have played them, and they were dumb.
  • McShay: Yo Mayock; the Raiders wear silver and black. Blutarski is a Raider now, not a San Fransisco Seahawk.
  • Boomer: He could…go…all…the…way!

There were several occasions this year when Kiper and Gruden felt it necessary to point out that a defensive or offensive lineman had, and I’m not making this up, “short arms.” Apparently, the length of one’s arms is important for a 400 lb. man whose entire career consists of butting helmets with other lineman of assorted arm lengths and football intelligence quotients, also known as FIQ.

Yes siree, football commentators say the darndest things, my friends. One of my all-time favorites was uttered by none other than Joe Theismann, former Redskins QB and ESPN analyst. Theismann is most known for the horrific injury that ended his career at age 36. He’s not known for his football intelligence. Theismann said, and I’m not making this up:

  • “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

With that piece of brilliant football analysis I think Joe earned himself a life-long seat between Gruden and Kiper. But alas, he’s in good company. For example, here are a few more priceless gems courtesy of James Alder at Football:

  • “I wouldn’t ever set out to hurt anyone deliberately unless it was important — like a league game.” – Dick Butkus; Chicago Bears LB (’65-’74)
  • “I’ve been big ever since I was little.” – William “The Refridgerator” Perry; Chicago Bears DT (’95-’93)
  • “Hawaii doesn’t win many games in the United States.” – Lee Corso; former Fla. State QB/CB and current college football analyst at ESPN

And from Ross Lipschultz of

  • “It isn’t like I came down from Mount Sinai with the tabloids.” – Ron Meyer; Indianapolis Colts Head Coach (’86-’91)
  • “I feel like I’m the best, but you’re not going to get me to say that.” – Jerry Rice; S.F. Forty-Niners WR (’85-2000)
  • When Bob Costas asked former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips why he brought his wife on every road trip Phillips responded, “Because she is too ugly to kiss goodbye.”

As someone who makes a living with words, I very much appreciate all those people who give me plenty of fodder to write about. At the end of the day, their lack of verbal accuity has allowed me to write another 800 words without having to work very hard. Norman Einstein would be proud.

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