Vero Beach, Florida – Few things make MAS chuckle — and also irritate him — the way “NFL draft gurus” on TV do.
So, watching the NFL’s annual cattle call this week, he’ll likely once more be alternately bemused and annoyed.
Each of the major TV sports networks in the United States has one of these supercilious talent experts — or six.
You know the type — pontificating draftniks who first tell us who the best college players are and then predict their NFL destinations.
For example, ESPN has, among others, Mel Kiper, Jr. (Is MAS supposed to know his Dad or something — a la Tony Gwynn, Jr.?)
And the NFL Network trots out Mike Mayock and Co. Though Mike doesn’t go with a Jr. at the end of his name, he is also a Junior.
MAS knows this because Mayock’s pop, Mike, Sr., was a high school football coach in the Philadelphia area with whom MAS crossed paths last century when he too was a head prep grid coach (more on this encounter in a bit).
That’s why you often hear Mayock refer to himself as “the son of a coach,” thereby setting himself apart — as in more advanced? — from your common analyst.
MAS gives many of the draftniks credit, though, for somehow convincing network honchos they actually know what they’re talking about.
Given their track records, how do these guys keep their jobs?
In their pre-draft prognostications, rarely do they get as many as five (out of 32) first round player destinations correct — and most of those are slam dunk, Cam Newton-to-Carolina no-brainers.
Last week, ESPN held a televised mock draft, with their top two gurus — Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay — doing the choosing for the teams.
Each looked to be wearing a shirt with a 33-cm collar that still left plenty of neck-room — not that MAS is calling them pencil-necked geeks.
But MAS digresses.
Point is, the pair will once more revive the “blind squirrel . . .” axiom and hit on the usual three or four of their initial 32 predictions — yet still keep their jobs.
Maybe even get raises.
What a racket.
As an ex-collegiate football player and a former coach and TV grid analyst (University of Hawaii games), MAS likes to think he knows more than some and not as much as others about evaluating football talent.
But MAS feels confident he can, at least, spot a bogus evaluator from Vero to Tokyo Tower.
First, let it be known, there are some who really know their stuff and are right more often than not — like Bill Polian, who put together four Super Bowl outfits as general manager of the Buffalo Bills.
But trust MAS, a lot of them are full of, um, baloney.
Here are three types that rankle MAS and turn his guru-watching smile upside down: 1) guys who never played in the NFL but act like know-it-alls 2) ex-players who should know more but don’t and 3) those who know the game but come across as “more-knowledgeable-than-thou.”
Kiper, Jr. and McShay, among others, fall into the first group.
These guys throw around terms like “outstanding hand placement” for offensive lineman and “tremendous hip torque” for cornerbacks.
All they’re doing is poll-parroting what they heard from players and coaches and making it sound like it’s coming from their own eyes and brain.
The second group is the ex-players who can’t see the forest for the trees.
They may have been good at their positions but, surprisingly, have little understanding of what goes on beyond their individual bailiwick.
They don’t tell you anything that you don’t already know or can’t see for yourself.
Ex-Cowboy Michael Irvin and former Saints fullback Heath Evans, to name two, fall under this umbrella.
C’mon, man — educate MAS!
And finally there’s the third bunch — the patronizers, headed up by Mayock and Jon Gruden, the ex-Tampa Bay coach.
Gruden tries too hard to be a tough guy and seeks to impress by unduly overwhelming viewers with terminology.
MAS suspects he’s somehow trying to make up for being a Division III back-up QB — but there’s no shame in that.
There is, though, in the way Gruden tries to snow the viewer.
Then there’s Mayock, who had only a cup of NFL coffee but articulates his considerable knowledge well.
However, his condescending “I watch tape 20 hours-a-day” brand of braggadocio wears on MAS.
But it’s not the first time, MAS has been exposed to some good ol’ Mayock condescension,
One summer, eons ago, pre-MAS took his Darby-Colwyn High team away from sweltering suburban Philly to the cool Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania for summer football camp.
At the same practice facility was Mike Mayock, Sr. and his Abington High Ghosts (true nickname — their school was built on a former graveyard).
We were a class B school (under 1,000 students), they were a gargantuan “A” entity of over 3,000 kids.
We had a 35-man team with only a few returning starters. Abington was 120-strong and retained many of their first stringers.
One day at practice, Mayock, Sr., a rather large, hulking individual, came sauntering over and asked if we would scrimmage his ball club (have a practice game).
“No thanks, Mike,” pre-MAS replied, “you would kill us and it would destroy our confidence.”
“Well, how about you play our junior varsity then,” Mike offered.
“Nah,” I answered, “they would murder us too and that would be even worse for our morale,”
“Then, would you . . . ,” Mike persisted before pre-MAS cut him off.
“Mike,” I said, “how many times — and in how many ways — do I have to say it: NO!”
He then sheepishly slinked off.
Mike, Sr. had tried to be slick and con me into doing something that would have destroyed my rebuilding squad’s delicate psyche.
Pre-MAS opted, instead, for a “discretion is the better part of valor” strategy.
These days, I guess MAS just doesn’t like it when Mike Mayock, Jr. insults his football intelligence — like Senior once did.
Hmmm, maybe MAS should push his lone offspring into this draft guru shtick.
How hard could it be?
There’s no “Junior” in his daughter Kimmy’s name, though.
Think that’ll hurt her chances?
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