(Photo courtesy of New England Patriots)
TALK OF FAME NETWORK
With the draft beginning last Thursday night, and months of debating over whether Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota should be the overall No. 1 pick coming to an end, your Hall-of-Fame guys – Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge – this week visit with two people who know what a burden and a joy being first can be.
In 1993, Drew Bledsoe was locked in a similar debate over whether he or Notre Dame’s Rick Mirer should be the overall No. 1 selection. The New England Patriots wisely chose Bledsoe, who led their then moribund franchise to the playoffs in two years and to the Super Bowl in four. Bledsoe recalls those days fondly and says the absence of social media made the pressure he faced far less than it will be on Winston.
“There was no internet, limited media outlets, it was a different experience,” Bledsoe said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “Now everybody’s got a voice.”
Bledsoe’s advice to both Winston, who went to Tampa, and Mariota, who Tennessee took with the second pick, was to keep life simple and focus as much as possible on football.
“Just put your head down and do the work,” Bledsoe advised. “Try and just make it about football until you have your feet on the ground.”
Bledsoe cautioned that a quarterback coming in as the draft’s top pick will face resentment and jealousies, not only from opposing teams but also from your own teammates. The best way to limit that, he said, was to remember “Just being the No. 1 pick doesn’t make you a team leader.”
Accorsi drafted John Elway with the first pick of the 1983 draft when he was general manager of the Baltimore Colts; helped concoct the deal that allowed Bernie Kosar to come to Cleveland in a supplemental draft; and pulled off the blockbuster trade with the San Diego Chargers that landed Eli Manning in New York when he was general manager of the Giants. So he has rich experiences taking quarterbacks in the first round and handling the pressures of deciding to make or trade that valuable pick.
Accorsi goes in depth into a general manager’s view of the delicate balancing act between football talent and character issues which Tampa faced this year before selecting Winston, and where the line has to be drawn. It’s an eye-opening look into the mind of a general manager who faced the question – and the pressure – that comes when you hold the overall top pick on Draft Day.
In addition, the guys discuss whether Peyton Manning will play beyond 2015 after declaring he feels like a “young 39,” when Eli Manning’s contract should be extended as he goes into his lame duck season with the Giants and their thoughts on ex-Florida coach Urban Meyer’s claim that some NFL coaches told him they stayed away from Tim Tebow to avoid “the circus” of outside pressures that come with him.
Our weekly Dr. Data and Borges or Bogus segments take different looks at the danger of early draft choices. The good Doctor cites how little impact first and second round picks had last season around the NFL, while Borges assesses the 15 quarterbacks taken with the overall No. 1 pick over the past 25 years. You may be surprised to find out what their track record has been.
Lastly, there’s the always lively two-minute drill, where Ron and Clark respond to Rick’s questions about the week’s hot topics, and the guys each give their picks for the all-time best NFL draft, including the Chicago Bears selecting Hall-of-Famers Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers back-to-back in 1965; the 1981 49ers drafting nearly an entire starting secondary in one draft and the fabulous 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft that landed them four Hall of Famers with their first five picks.
All that, plus a conversation with Hall-of-Fame voters Nick Canepa and Bernie Miklasz in San Diego and St. Louis about the unsteady futures of their cities’ franchises and more on this week’s show, available on stations around the country, on iTunes podcasts and at talkoffamenetwork.com