“On the Clock: The Story of the NFL Draft” by Barry Wilner and Ken Rappoport
Football (American), professional, draft
April 1, 2015
4 of 5 stars (Very Good)
For some professional football fans, the day when all 32 pro teams hold the annual draft of college players is just as big a day as Super Bowl Sunday. The television ratings for the draft are higher than basketball and hockey playoff games on that day. The action is really non-existent – just men talking about the players interrupted by walks to the podium so a player just chosen can shake hands with the commissioner and show off his new team’s jersey.
So why is this event so popular? The answer to this and other questions about the NFL draft is revealed in this entertaining book by Barry Wilner and Ken Rappaport. The book starts off with drama at the 2014 draft – who is going to select Johnny Manzeil? What are the Cleveland Browns doing with these trades? Not only did the authors take the reader inside this draft, they presented the comings and goings in a manner that would make the reader think he or she is reading about a reality TV show. Which, later in the book, is a reason given for the huge popularity of the draft.
The book also gives the history of the draft, which was the brainchild of Bert Bell before he became commissioner of the NFL. There are stories about the best draft choices, the worst, and how some men used the draft to their advantage to build winning football teams. As a reader, I enjoyed most of these stories. I felt that too much of the history section was devoted to the history of the Bell family that had little to do with the draft. It is like when reading a fictional book that starts off exciting, gets a little boring in the middle, but later gets even better.
I make that comparison for this book because my favorite section was when the writers describe how the draft went from simply something to put on the air in the early days of ESPN to the glamorous, dramatic TV show it is today. I also liked the short biographies on four men who are considered to be the best in analyzing the draft and the players taken: Mike Mayock, Mel Kiper, Gil Brandt and Joel Buchsbaum – the “Gurus” as the chapter states.
The only drawback to the book in my opinion is the best and worst picks for each team. Not because I disagree with many of them – any list of “best” or “worst” will be debated – but because I thought that there wasn’t enough reasons given why the authors believed this was so. Take the San Diego Chargers – okay, it’s easy to see why Ryan Leaf was the worst player they ever selected, but give me more of a reason why Dan Fouts is the best other than he is in the Hall of Fame. He is not the only player for the Chargers who has made it.
Overall, this was a decent book with interesting and entertaining stories on some of the more famous players selected and the event itself. Football fans will enjoy reading this book which is very good at the beginning and toward the end, with some softness in the middle.
I wish to thank NetGalley and Taylor Trade Publishing for an advance review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Pace of the book:
This is a quick read as it took me less than two hours to finish the book. The stories and reporting are all written in small segments, which made reading it quickly even easier.
Do I recommend?
Readers who are football fans will enjoy this book and those who are among the many who cheer just as loudly for a draft pick by their favorite team as a touchdown will especially enjoy this.