Get Off of My Lawn!!!

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2013
By Tiger Rowan
Steelers Fever Columnist

It happened. I am now officially an “old man.”

For years, I used to laugh at my elders, who would recount the days of yester-year, lauding how it was always so much better when they were kids. I would snicker to myself, thinking, “Man, these old dudes just do not know much about anything.” And then… it happened… without warning… I became one of those old men.

I did not see it coming… although the signs were there (diminishing eye-sight; extra hair on body parts that used to have no hair at all; enjoying frozen yogurt). I was blind-sided by the fact that I had indeed officially become an old man.

Maybe I was in denial; maybe I did not notice because I am sort of a curmudgeon anyway; but, regardless, it happened: I vigorously uttered the words, “Back in my day…”

I was talking to a couple of whipper-snappers (did I just say “whipper-snappers”???) about the NFL draft. We were discussing how the format has changed considerably in the past few years. Currently, Roger Goodell holds the first round of the selection event on a Thursday night in April, followed by the second round on Friday, and then the later rounds on the weekend. These young bucks (did I just say “young bucks”???) were talking about how they were going to go to a bar to watch the draft, and how they loved going to the bars on a Thursday night. “Woo-hoo!!! An excuse to drink on a work night!!!” they cheered.

And, I replied with those four damning, little words: “Back in my day…”

I have never felt so old.

But, really, I am not wrong, because all joking aside, back in my day, the draft was awesome!!! I used to awaken at 4:00am, go to the gym, and then stop by the local donut shop for a dozen donuts (a shout out to VJ’s Donuts in Leucadia). Then, I would flop down on the couch, eagerly awaiting the 8:00am (PST) start of the NFL draft. As I watched the first round, I would eat one donut per every selection made… which is not as horrible as it sounds, because each selection in the first round used to take fifteen minutes. Thus, I would eat about four donuts per hour, and be finished with the dozen after about three hours.

Then, once done with the donuts, I still had a good three hours left before the first round ended. Not only did the lengthy first round afford my stomach the luxury of digesting my breakfast, it gave the commentators time (ten minutes) to discuss each team & the player that that team had selected. It was a very enjoyable pace, and an even better programming decision by a sports league.

So, after the first round was done, it was generally about 1:00 (PST) in the afternoon… and just about the right time for some pizza. Akin to the “one donut per selection” in round one, I had “one slice of pizza per selection” in round two. Likewise, this is not nearly as disgusting as it sounds, because each selection in the second round used to take ten minutes. It was the perfect pace, because I would eat about six slices per hour… and finish the pizza over the course of two hours. Meanwhile, while the analysis was not nearly as in-depth as the analysis of round one, there was still plenty of time to hear nearly five minutes of discussion regarding each team’s newest draft pick.

It was a gluttonous day… and it was awesome!!!

Now… for the past few years, I have had to race home from work in order to catch the first selection. First off, I do not get my donuts. Ugh. And, while I get pizza, I feel all flustered, from having rushed home, picked up a pizza, and turning on the television & such; thus, by the time that I can actually sit down, the selections are already five or six players in. Additionally, the pacing of the first round is so much quicker than it was, and in turn, I feel as though I barely even hear a full minute on Pittsburgh’s newly acquired blue-chipper, before the analysts move on to the next team. Just when I am finally starting to settle in & get oriented, the draft ends for the day. And, I feel cheated.

Where is my mid-April vacation? Where are the highlights & the analysis of the new players for the Steelers? Where is my box of donuts? Roger Goodell, you have some explaining to do.

Anyway… after hearing my tirade, this group of youngins (did I just say “youngins”?) looked at me as though I had not said a single relevant thing... and asked, ever so nonchalantly, “What about the players in this draft?” I guess that they did not care about the good ol’ days. I guess that April is now solely about sports bars & beer… and, not about pizza, donuts, and ten hours on the couch. I guess that an old man’s plight was none of their concern.

Then again, actually, the players in this draft are analogous to the dilemma which I will face on Thursday, when deciding about which pizza to eat: Lefty’s or Round Table.

In one hand, there is Lefty’s Pizza. It is eight pounds of cheesy goodness. (Yes, I did indeed say eight pounds.) Each slice is a full pound, consisting of a layer of delectable crust, and then cheese & toppings, followed by a second layer of crust, and then topped with sauce & more toppings. It takes a full hour to create, because it is baked twice. For a pizza aficionado, it is second to none. BUT, this pizzeria is an hour from my house, takes an hour for them to make a pie, and would make my evening even more rushed. Plus, after about one slice, I am done… making my pizza-fest last all of one slice (albeit an amazing slice).

On the other hand, there is Round Table Pizza. It is conveniently located five blocks from my house, and more importantly, allows me to eat nine to twelve slices, thus spreading out the pizza-eating enjoyment over a longer time-frame. BUT, it is not in the same class as Lefty’s Pizza.

So, you are probably wondering how my pizza quandary has anything to do with the draft. Well, at pick number seventeen, the Steelers might be facing the dilemma of drafting a highly-talented player (only one slice of Lefty’s) versus trading back and acquiring more draft picks (multiple slices of Round Table). In other words, if Tavon Austin is there, do the Steelers take the most dynamic playmaker in the draft? …or, do they trade back with the Vikings, who desperately want Austin? Likewise, do the Steelers take the wide receiver/tight end hybrid, Tyler Eifert? …or, do they trade back with the Falcons, who really want Eifert?

Simply, it’s a matter of quality versus quantity.

The great news for the Steelers is that this draft’s second and third tier players are exceptional. While there is not much of a wow factor at the top of the draft, picks twenty through sixty are all about the same (very good), and then the next forty picks are not that far below the previous forty picks. Thus, this is the year to have multiple picks in the first two, if not three, rounds.

In other words, if the right player were to drop to seventeen (Tavon Austin, Kenny Vaccaro, John Cooper, Chance Warmack) the Steelers probably should jump on that player. But, if “their guy” is gone, the best option would be to trade back.

So, what do I think the Steelers should do/what do I think will unfurl? Well, again, it seems that their situation and my situation are comparable. Thus, I think that (miraculously) Tavon Austin drops to seventeen. The Steelers will trade back with the Vikings, and then trade back again with the Falcons… and still get the guy that I personally want them to draft: Matt Elam, SS, Florida. Besides acquiring a play-making, hard-hitting safety, the Steelers would also receive two additional third-round picks (one from each of the aforementioned teams). In other words, it is obvious what my decision shall be: I will go to Lefty’s, but only get a slice-to-go of their “regular” pizza (aka Matt Elam); while it’s not a one-pound slice, it is still a hefty slice. Then, I will also get a medium pizza at Round Table (multiple round-three picks).

In other words, drafting Matt Elam and getting extra draft picks would be the best of both worlds… well, the best in a world that does not consist of getting donuts.