The most oversold and overhyped sporting event will take place this weekend: The National Football League collegiate draft.
Because my favorite squad (Vikings) has fallen on hard times, I’ll know by lunch time who they will draft since they own the # 7 overall pick.
But the NFL draft certainly has had its share of drama an intrigue over the years. Probably the most famous (or infamous if you were a Colts fan) was the 1983 extravaganza. The then Baltimore Colts had the #1 overall selection that year and they were desperate for a quarterback. Available were the likes of future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Dan Marino. But neither was as highly coveted as a certain QB from Stanford University.
The Colts made it clear that they wanted John Elway to be their franchise quarterback. One little hitch: Elway wanted nothing to do with the dreadful Colts. Since he was also a standout baseball player, Elway stated that he would accept a standing offer to play ball with the New York Yankees should the Colts ignore his wishes and draft him.
Sure enough, Baltimore made Elway their top pick. In turn, Elway reiterated his position that he would not play a single down for the Colts. Sensing that he was indeed not bluffing, the Colts then shipped Elway to the Denver Broncos for two players and a draft pick.
Over the years, many football fans outside of Denver (especially my Packer fan relatives) still express their disdain for Elway and the hard line stance he took. But in the NFL of the 80s, once a team drafted a player they pretty much owned him for the duration of his career. There was no free agency of any kind.
My take has always been that if any other professional athletes possessed the kind of leverage that Elway had, you better believe they would have weighed all options heavily.