With the NFL Draft coming up in just two days, there are a lot of burning questions on the minds of football fans all over the country. We’ve read all the mock drafts. We’ve pinpointed free agents. We’ve analyzed our teams rosters. Heck, if you’re like me, you’ve read online chats by the likes of Jean Jacques Taylor who is among the most awful sports writers in the metroplex, if not the entire state, save that UT molester dickhead in Houston.
However, if you’re a college football fan in addition to the NFL, the whole draft process cuts a lot deeper, especially if you’re a TCU fan with two potential first round choices. At present, it’s a pretty foregone conclusion that Jerry Hughes is going to go, at absolute worst, early in the second round, with Daryl Washington probably going within 15-20 spots afterwards. It can also be presumed that Marshall Newhouse is probably going to get a mid to late round selection and that Clint Gresham, while maybe not getting drafted solely as a specialist, will most certainly be on an NFL roster next season as a free agent. I should also mention Nic Richmond in this discussion, as he’s gotten some love recently from a few NFL teams.
And while we all wish that the respective NFL franchise we back would take any of these guys so that we could cheer them on for the next decade, obviously due to needs and availability, this rarely occurs. Especially if, like me, you’re a Cowboys fan and your draft czar is a drunken lunatic who once drafted Quincy Carter. Things worked out pretty nicely last year with Stephen Hodge getting the Star treatment, but as a sixth rounder on a team that was deep at the linebacker position, including in that same draft, it was hard to muster a ton of optimism. So while I’d love to have Washington come to Dallas and send Bobby Carpenter into an early, Ed Hardy infused retirement, I know that I’m more likely to end up with an offensive lineman or safety from a school I either haven’t heard of or don’t care about. Still, at least I know that Washington is going to have a chance to play somewhere and that it will probably be better than him remaining in Dallas to play in front of the home crowd, right?
Unfortunately, with that knowledge, as optimistic as it should be, there comes an inherent horror than I almost want to refuse to mention here. An idea that turns my blood cold and would make a lesser man cry out for their mother in the night, though I'm not ruling that out for myself. A thought that, if it comes to fruition, would make it necessary for me to turn my back on an athlete that I have watched and admired for the past four years and who has given his to some of the best TCU teams in history.
What if Jerry Hughes or Daryl Washington get drafted by the fucking Eagles?
A perfect case in point would be Robert Henson. As anyone who reads this site knows, we LOVED Henson probably more than any TCU player who has worn purple during our years as students. He was the heart and soul of the defense as a senior – and possibly before then despite not starting – and he could fire up the crowd like few others before him. And I was probably even more gay for him than most seeing as how I watched him play for my high school team. But, after he was drafted by the Redskins last year – a rivalry that doesn’t retain the same aggression it once did, but remains a bitter NFC East hatefest nonetheless – something changed. I remember being pretty angry when he was declared ineligible for the Poinsettia Bowl that year, but later sympathized with him after hearing his reasons, although it probably helped his case a lot that we ended up winning anyway. After the draft, though? No mas. I thought, “You know, that guy let the team down last year, and I think this is the world’s way of letting me channel that disrespect beyond TCU.” In reality, nothing changed. But in my mind, everything had.
And it’s all because one team decided to make the man a millionaire instead of another.
And this is the complex the football fan with dual college and NFL rooting interests faces each and every year, and why I eye the draft with an extremely bittersweet disposition. Fortunately, outside of Henson, there haven’t been very many conflicts since I came to school. Out of the 21 players GP has had drafted, I honestly can't think of anyone outside of Henson who went to a team I absolutely hated. Gator as a Bengal? Cool with it. Aaron Brown as a Lion? Well, feel sorry for you dude, but congrats nonethless. Enjoy that ring, Michael Toudouze. And though I wasn’t here when LT was a player, I’ve always enjoyed following him with San Diego, one because he’s a future hall of famer who was absolutely spectacular before his body broke down – and it has guys, let’s be realistic – but also because San Diego is in the AFC. And now that he’s with the Jets, the same rules apply, although with Rex Ryan, Braylon Edwards, and Cromartie on board, plus Hard Knocks showing up for training camp, the stakes are infinitely more disastrously raised and I couldn’t be more excited about the the 2010 New York Jets. The same AFC thing applies with Aaron Schoebel at Buffalo because, seeing as how Dallas never had a realistic shot at the Super Bowl until last season, I knew I’d never have to set my Horned Frog ties aside in lieu of the Cowboys.
But, if anyone goes to the NFC East, even if they’re perennial pro bowlers and potential Hall of Famers and give back to the TCU community like no others before them, all bets are off. If Jerry Hughes puts on that blue NY helmet and starts taking pooping on girls lessons from Osi Umenyiora, he’s dead to me. If Daryl Washington puts on Philadelphia green and starts throwing batteries at people and cheering career ending neck injuries, he may as well have played for SMU in college. Nevermind that by going all in with Kevin Kolb they’ve all but gift wrapped Dallas a second consecutive NFC East title - thanks, but up yours for ruining one of my all time favorite players. And honestly, with Washington taking on McNabb and Dan Snyder being crazy enough to perhaps bring in TO, that may be the biggest death blow of all.
But, this isn’t to tout a Cowboys or NFC East horn – it could apply to anyone. For a Texans fan, imagine Hughes in a Titans uni. Not only will you have the “what if” feelings of him being an Oiler in a different era, you also have to face him twice a year in a tough division game. Or, if he goes to Indianapolis as commonly projected, not only do you have to deal with him twice a year, but with Peyton Manning owning that division and with little hope of a wildcard berth in the tough AFC each year, you’re looking at even more 8-8 seasons and no playoffs.
Or, perhaps something we can all agree on: What if either of them go to the Patriots? Well, some things are just too sadistic to speak of any further.
So, what do we do? What if going to one of our hated rivals offers a better opportunity for Jerry Hughes? Say, by not being selected by Indianapolis in the first round and learning from one of the great pass rushers of the era in Dwight Freeney plus accepting the better paycheck that comes with the slot, Hughes tumbles out of the first round and late into the second? What then? Do we feel bad that one of the all time great Horned Frogs lost his best shot at becoming a dominant NFL player? Or do we deep down sleep better at night knowing that, even though he may not develop the way he maybe could've, at least we can continue to cheer for him elsewhere?
Let’s just hope these are questions we can postpone another year.
But seriously, I wish all of our draft eligible Frogs the best of luck Thursday night and through the weekend (eat me, Roger Goodell). In the meantime, better get that anonymous letter re: Jerry Hughes' un-coachability postmarked to Pennsylvania...