The 2014 NFL Draft

By Patricia Moloney Dugas, Freelance Reporter


Prime Ribs – Racks of Ham – Sides of Beef – Burly Behemoths.  The class of 2014.

There was more pre-draft coverage of this 2014 Draft than all the bad stuff Congress has done since 2008.  Midst the din at the NY Radio City Music Hall, the stage was bedecked with an array of large-than-life (literally) young men, fresh out of college, now wearing diamond earrings & wristwatches the size of  Frisbees, and mega-size dress suits.  These unpaid servants of wealthy universities, often going to bed hungry, (really?), are lined up for live TV, hoping to become rich, over-paid, under-achieving NFL trainees. By dawn, those selected can buy Mom a new house, buy themselves a fleet of flash cars, and take their neighborhood to dinner with champagne.  Make no mistake – these newbies are not picked by some local team, but by a mega-biz, mega-moolah conglomerate – the NFL.  The Dallas Cowboys on Forbes are alone worth $2.3 b-b-b-billion! No place here for dilettantes and party boys.

Sorry, non-believers and you football scoffers watching Fox news, this event has equally as much drama as another moon landing.  Half the planet has hot pizza, cheese krinkles, and cold beer lined up, families gathered around their aspirants, Mom’s already teary-eyed, wait breathlessly to watch NFL commissioner Roger Goodell saunter to center stage midst boo’s from the peanut galleries, (go figure), to declare — the 2014 Draft open. The momentous moment arrives. “With the No.1 pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select,” pause, “Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney!”  What! Not super QB self-declared commodity Johnny Manziel?!  Hey, what’s a Clowney anyway? What’s a Jadeveon?  Who?  Why? (This was no surprise to the TV prognosticators — just the howling galleries.) He is a 6’5” 266 pounds of teary eyed behemoth with 34 ½ inch arms. (Who measures arms?)  A defensive-end chosen No.1 – Numero Uno?

There it’s done! History forever etched. One more No.1 into the annals of the NFL. Numbers 2 thru 255 are now strictly business.

Wait! No.3 Jacksonville choice is in. Goodell tells us they have selected — a QB  – Blake Bortles!  What’s a Bortles? Not primo Johnny Football? No again. JF is left cooling his heels — on camera – sipping a six-pack of water – and would remain there until selection No.22 by Philadelphia. Don’t feel bad for Manziel; Philadelphia is out printing up and selling a bizarre mega-bucks worth of memorabilia already!  He hasn’t even read the play book!

Even though this year’s crop is “possibly the deepest ever,” there is no Andrew Luck in this herd. Many commentators agreed the cream rose to the top in 2012 – in the persona of Andrew Luck 2012 No.1 pick to the Indianapolis Colts.  His Stanford pedigree and performance made the memory of mega-star Manning fade away. We still get to deal for this better-than-average crop in 2014. Could Manziel go the way of 2012 No.2, RGIII – over-stimulated?

Dire warnings this season – no more free passes.  Not only their size, weight, records, and intellect matters – now their “off-field” behavior is in question.  Bad stuff sends them tumbling if at all, to the back of the line.  No room left under the rug… Today’s Pro teams don’t want to deal with miscreants and malefactors. Why the growing concern about bad boys feeling their oats? The escalating off-field activities of these ‘kids’ now border on criminal/jail time offenses. Their character follows them.

My formula to address this?  Make a video of actual footage of the TV pre-draft analyst’s serious evaluations of “off-field” activities. They emphatically demote miscreants as risky prospects. Teams don’t need social bad boys dragging their tarnished egos into their locker rooms. Send this video to high school and university coaches to convince their pseudo-phenoms that there is a tragic price to pay for arrogant, defiant, often criminal behavior.  They could lose more than their dream of ‘playing’ in the NFL.               

As the 3-day parade of selections continues on ESPN/NFL/CBS/FOX / et al., these big guys hug everybody in reach, wipe away tears, walk on stage and hug the Commish as though he alone was responsible for their success. The transition is complete. A grungy behemoth is now a swaggering millionaire – a behemoth none the less. No longer going hungry (really?).  It truly is a joy to watch these young men realize their dream of being called up to the big show.  We have witnessed the

The finale – “With the 256th and final pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans selected Lonnie Ballentine,”  making Ballentine professional football’s 2014 “Mr. Irrelevant.”  As per tradition, Ballentine will be invited for a week-long Mr. Irrelevant celebration in Newport Beach, California.

And there you have it.  My version of the draft. On to training camp, weight rooms, dining halls, play books, anxiety & exhaustion beyond belief — all for the promised millions of moolah.

Patricia Moloney Dugas, Freelance Reporter


The New Face of Football:

My other Draft reports:

Dampen Down The Damsel’s Decibels In Tennis

Like so many other societal failings these days, the WTA, for whatever ungodly reason, has allowed the Women’s Tennis Tour to become a hootin’, howlin’, cat fight. While this screech-fest is going on, the fans, locked in their seats, are committed to absolute silence. Heaven forbid a child should cut loose – they would be forced to remove the annoyance post haste.

Because the WTA has not had the chutzpah to step in and regulate this decibel debacle, we, the tennis devotees, are instead subjected to an unparalleled symphony of who-gotcha howling.  Since it is deliberately orchestrated, it becomes necessary for the ladies to develop their own unique shriek – something with a ring to it – maybe a double yowl to cover up the tell-tale sound of the ball leaving their strings that might signal the type of shot. If they should flub the screech, is that like a blink in poker?

These damsels, appearing in teeny tiny tennis tutus, belie the ferocity that burns in their barely covered bosoms and  bottoms to smash, crash, and annihilate the little yellow fuzzies.  Now that this piquing contest has been allowed to escalate, some have added double crescendos to their repertoire, i.e., Hantekova of Russia with her Hey-yah!  Where do they practice their hoots? Do they have a howl coach?

I openly confess to having prayed for about of incurable laryngitis to hit the locker-rooms.  Nothing life threatening, just painful – like our ears. As I remember, Navratilova, Stephi, and Davenport, had no need to bellow. They just won all those titles by focusing on strokes – not shrieks.

As Sharipova’s career diminishes, her screech escalates.  Protect your eardrums when her game goes to hell in a ball basket.  Her freneticism is scary!  I find myself relieved when she loses – taking her designer tutu, haughty expression, her pony tail and puppy back to the airport. Sad commentary actually. Not like watching basketball where you can lower the TV and turn on the radio to hear the game. Don’t get me started on basketball!  Might we ever use clackers, horns, and whistles at tennis matches? We should have the right to express ourselves.

Grunting has spread to the ATP men’s tour now but at least those few who do grunt don’t rattle my nerve endings.  More of a mellow bellow.

Bottom line here.  My email, license plate, and moniker is Tennis Buff.  I play, watch, tape & DVR, photograph, and attend everything.  I even pay big bucks for the Tennis Channel.  In the 70’s, I was a paper cup away from Arthur Ashe at the U.S. Open at Longwood Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. He would never dream of grunting, even if he fell over the ball boys. Oh, such class!  I even saw a curly haired kid named McEnroe at 18 beat up someone on a hot Wednesday afternoon with nary a gasp.

I myself play with a Wilson Carbon Hyper-Hammer wide-body with enough power to punch a hole in the green court screens.  I started with a small wooden Slazenger bought from my Aussie tennis coach. My elevation to the Hyper-Hammer is testament to my continued involvement in the game. Having lived through the modernization of this grand ol’ lawn game, it is a joy to see the women’s game come alive with these super racquets. They have the power to intimidate, so they don’t need the sound effects. These racquets give them voice enough.  Are we more likely to watch because the women have decided to screech?
I don’t think so!

I no longer wake up at 2:00am here on the West Coast to watch women’s tennis LIVE from the European tourneys. With
one eye open, I don’t want to listen to bellows of power emanating from my giant stereo TV system in the bedroom.  Not in the middle of the night. I do waken to watch the men’s matches.

I don’t watch women’s tennis much anymore.  Sad.  They could have stopped it way back when Monica Seles started grunting. They did try to stop her, but backed down. Mustn’t offend the prima donnas.  Tough luck for the fans.

The most we can hope for at this stage of the game is that the tennis associations will at least attempt to curb the annoyance.  It may be too late to abolish something they have already allowed to permeate the game.  Like gun control, illegal immigration, and grunting, by the time they legislate it, everyone will have amassed an arsenal – of guns, green cards, grunts, groans, and bellows.      Pat Dugas.

The Jangled Star Spangled

It’s been a good thing to start sporting events with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.  It is restorative to all – who stand together, with flags and honor guards — saluting the United States of America.

For that very reason, I bring attention to the growing abuse of this, our National Anthem. The recent choice of  pop celeb’s seems to have precipitated a competition as to who can out-jazz the  others, often with screechy results. Some of their modernized renditions border on the irreverent if not  sacrilegious. Francis Scott Key would never recognize these varied vibratos  being bellowed through half-swallowed microphones – often off-Key, so to  speak.

Before football, the crowd is already primed for pugilism – with libations, team  chants, and blow horns. The solemnity of the moment is lost – often drowned out by the howling of the crowd during the final stanzas – as much as to say,  “Let’s get on with the game!”

I am not recommending that we do away with The National Anthem, but let’s substitute “God Bless America” for sporting  events instead. There can be a ‘star celeb’ leading the song, but we can all join in  the singing, and the idea of asking “God” to bless all of us together seems  rather nice.

Let’s leave the Anthem for solemn occasions;  the Olympics,  presidential, funereal, and military states of affair. It was never intended for  football.

Patricia Moloney Dugas

Twitter: @artrician     My sports site: