For the Love of Mel Kiper!


There is a big debate raging on one of the blogs I follow.  Someone posted a poll on who you hate more, Mel Kiper Jr. or Todd McShay.  By the time I clicked on the post, it was already rolling at four pages long.  My initial response was, “Whoa, I can’t wait to read how vile this could be”.

What I found was, indeed, many people completely eviscerating these two draft pundits.  However, much to my surprise I also encountered many more bloggers berating the fellow who posted such a mean spirited poll.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard all sorts of rhetorical bombs thrown at Kiper and McShay over the years, but most of the time it is pure drivel.  I realize Kiper can be verbally invasive once he gets going.  And McShay takes it on the chin when he sticks up for his information gathering or being staunch about a player, i.e. Jimmy Clausen.

It got me thinking though.  Why is there so much vitriol out there directed at these two (among others)?  After all, they must be doing something right to get as much air time as they do and as many people following them that appear to.  I gave this even more thought when I heard Mel Kiper admit on his podcast that he feels lucky if he gets 6-8 picks right in the first round on any given draft.  Is the strong feelings because these guys are usually no more correct percentage wise with a pick than the average guy is?  It could be, but I doubt it.

I then went back and listened to the podcast again that Mel and Todd were doing that day.  Kiper continued and went on to say that he simply makes his picks based on the best information he gathers from team contacts, players, other insiders and his gut.   Basically what I translated from that was, it’s all “best guess”.  And you know what, he’s right.

Now, I absolutely LOVE the draft.  It’s my one moment of “geek” every year (don’t let me fool you, I have many “geek” moments, but…) and I spend many, many months preparing for it as if it actually matters.  Yeah, it’s that big to me, at least in terms of recreation and fun.  But, in the scheme of it all, no matter who I read, how much of my own research I do, how many magazines and blogs I looks at, it all comes down to “best guess”.  Mel Kiper has absolutely no idea what each team is going to do, usually, except for the very first pick in the draft.  Even that isn’t always 100%.

So, what I finally decided, after reading all the spewed words, the hard feelings because Mel’s picks were off, and everything else, what I took from it was two-fold.  First, this entire industry, besides a big money maker, is based purely on fun and entertainment.  I can’t speak for you or anyone else, but I know that I am in no way heartbroken or angry when the player Todd McShay had slated to got #6 actually went twelve spots later at #18.  I just don’t have that kind of emotional neediness involved.

The second thing that I concluded  after 4 very long pages of virtual hate mail is that I actually think people are envious of these two guys.  Seriously, I know I would absolutely love to do what these two do every day.  I don’t have the voice or nerves for TV, but in an alternate reality, I want their gig! What a great job these two guys have, no?  Think about it.  “We’re back here on ESPN and I’m now joined by E.C. Mercer and we are talking about his top 10 ten picks for the 2012 draft”.  Nice!