This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this is The Score.
Players, their families and fans will be tuned in to the first round of the NFL draft tonight. Might be near to impossible for some of you to imagine how watching people sit in rooms, waiting for their names to be announced....or not...can make for good television, yet 39 million viewers tuned in last year. And, going prime time for the first time tonight, the audience will likely be even bigger this year. The drama from the fans' end, derives from following the needs of their teams closely, each hoping for just the perfect position choice to give their squad that special piece of the puzzle to take their boys all the way to the Super Bowl. On the players' ends, these are the elite. Of the thousands of boys who play at the starter level, suiting up from about age eight in Pop Warner uniforms, these are the kids, and their families, who have had only one dream all their lives...to be an NFL star. The huge contracts go to the first-round picks and cameras will focus on the edge-of-their-seats anticipation of these few special players whose financial futures will be changed forever as their names are announced tonight. Quarterback seems to be a flush field this year. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford stands atop that list, likely to go Number One overall, likely to the St. Louis Rams. But there's also Colt McCoy out of Texas, on the short side at 6'1", but with great peripheral vision and the moves to get the ball off the line of scrimmage in quick spurts. And there's Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, considered the one best groomed for the pros, due to his particular collegiate offensive scheme. And of course there is the enigma of Florida's Tim Tebow, one of the college game's all-time heroes and likely to find a place in the NFL, but experts say not first-round material.
It could be one of those times, similar to the Joe Montana, Dan Marino draft year when we look back a decade from now and talk about the special quarterback picks of the year 2010.
One of the slightly intriguing situations of this year's draft surrounds a running back out of Stanford named Toby Gerhart. Gerhart is white and evidently a white running back is almost taboo in today's pro game. One NFL scout went so far as to say he guarantees a black back of Gerhart's exact size and achievements... 27 touchdowns last season, a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, a 38" vertical jump...are plenty enough athletic fodder to make him a first-round pick, but he will be pushed back to the second or even the third round, just because a white man carries the stigma of slow and un-athletic.
It wasn't that long ago that the black quarterback was stamped unsuited for decision-making. Just ask Warren Moon who was banished to Canada before finally getting the chance to showcase his talents in the NFL. A black quarterback not brainy enough just a few years ago? A white running back not athletic enough today?
Just watch the man play the game and take him on his skills and his heart.
Now a word on Lorena Ochoa who will formally announce her retirement from professional golf tomorrow. Over her ten years on tour, Ochoa was Player of the Year four times, was ranked #1 the last three years, and won nearly $15 million. At 28, if she feels the urge to retire and start a full-time family, who of us can criticize her? It's just a shame, in a game where 28 is probably not even yet one's prime, to lose such a magnetic and popular player....especially at a time when the LPGA is suffering losses of sponsorships and tournaments. I don't know if Lorena Ochoa will wind up missing golf but the game will desperately miss the Mexican champion.
This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.
Banner image: Ramon Gomez