Depending on who you ask, the NFL Draft is either a colossal bore or pro football’s equivalent of Christmas, as fans are rewarded with new shiny toys to play with. It appears most fans believe the latter, as the draft is set to debut in prime time next Thursday. So while critics claim it’s an endless cycle of watching a countdown clock, here’s the Top 10 Most Unforgettable Draft Moments since ESPN started telecasting it in 1980 that have made it must-watch TV.
10. Heyward-Bey heads to the Bay (2009)
Al Davis’ obsession with rocket-armed quarterbacks and speedy wide receivers is well-chronicled. But this was just crazy. In last year’s draft, Davis made Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey and his 4.3 40-yard dash the No. 7 overall pick, over Michael Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin. Said ESPN’s Todd McShay: “To me, this has bust written all over it. To be obsessed with a 40 time is one reason Al Davis continues to pick in this spot.” As a rookie, Heyward-Bey had 9 catches. Total!
9. Benson breaks down (2005)
The lead up to the 2005 Draft was contentious for Cedric Benson, who had to endure a character assassination from just about every fan base as teams brought him in for interviews. Benson said he was treated at times “like I had murdered somebody or something. It was like no appreciation or respect for me putting myself in the position to be sitting in front of the guy in front of me. I just thought it was a slap in the face.” So when Benson was selected fourth overall by the Bears and asked by Suzy Kolber “Who is the real you?”, Benson snapped. He broke down crying and answered he didn’t even know, turning the draft into an episode of Oprah.
8. Bills take chance on McGahee (2003)
One of the main subplots of the ’03 NFL Draft was just how far would Willis McGahee fall after his knee exploded during the national championship game. The debate raged in the weeks leading up to the draft until the Bills shocked everyone, McGahee included, by making the injured running back the first running back taken in the draft at No. 23 (showing how weak the class was that year). The draft is also remembered for agent Drew Rosenhaus, who took credit for McGahee’s pick because he pretended to be on the phone with other teams when the ESPN cameras showed McGahee waiting.
7. Jets’ fans not exactly Brady Bunch (1995)
Disappointed Jets fans have become a draft staple, but the 1995 Draft may have been the most entertaining they’ve ever been. While fans chanted “We want Sapp! We Want Sapp!”, Paul Tagliabue went up to the mic and announced Kyle Brady as the No. 9 overall pick, sucking the life out of Jets fans who remember how horrible the Johnny Mitchell pick three years earlier went. So they booed and booed lustily. They had a good reason. The Jets needed a pass rusher or a wideout and Warren Sapp along with J.J. Stokes were available. Instead the Jets took Brady. That’s not a safe choice. That’s a dumb one. But you still have to feel for Brady, who said: “I hope they were booing the decision and not me,” he said.
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