Ahead of the Curve
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Owners rule.

If you think GMs call the shots on NFL Draft night (4-25 / 8P / NFLN) you might want to crawl outside your bubble for a spell and take a quick gander at the real world.

The General Manager is a wheel, a big-shot in the realm of football.  He's the owner's right-hand man, to be sure.  They know the numbers, mold the team and steer the ship.  But it's the owners who captain the vessel and set the draft course.

Some owners are hands on, comfortable rubbing shoulders with media and, once in a blue moon, fans too, in belief that PR is a key component of their position (Jones / Bowlen / Lurie / late Al Davis); some stay more or less in the background (Wilson / Rooney) as age has a way of changing priorities, and still others are just too numerous to gauge (112,158 GB stockholders).

In the Packers' unique case, the corporation "is governed by a seven-member Executive Committee, elected from the 45 Board of Directors" who in turn are chosen by the shareholders.  The team President (Murphy) is voted in and hires the GM (Thompson) with Board approval to run day-to-day operations (Wikipedia).  Got all that?  Once I started I couldn't stop.

You don't have be an NFL insider to surmise that Misters Murphy & Thompson have a free hand in draft decisions.  But that shouldn't preclude the opinionated big-cheese Board member or Committee cufflink, from time to time, trying to impose his (her?) draft desires on the Packers' brain-trust.  Gotta' get some perks from the job, right?

And how would I know the workings of NFL owners & GMs, apart from reading those autobiographies nobody reads?  I'm no insider.

Because logic dictates that while the boss may come up empty if queried on combine stats or a point of player contract, they form opinions about people & play-calling just like anybody else and should have no qualms about expressing those views to the guys they pay to listen, i.e., the Managers in General.

Not every gridiron chieftain is created equal.  Some are emotionally invested in their sporting enterprise, others may take more pleasure manning the yacht and watching the market sizzle.  But one way or another every one of 'em has his hands on the controls.  Bank on it.

And no draft decision today is more telling of owner ilk than that of a quarterback.

Before Michael Vick hit the scene (ATL '01), Ws and championship metallica were the tale of the tape on where an owner stood, an indicator of his commitment, his vision and the direction he'd set for his NFL venture.

Not anymore.  Now celebrity & sales (apparel & merchandise / TV time) can move an owner's meter more than Super Bowl glitteralia.

DC's Dan Snyder, while surely disappointed at his team's early playoff exit and troubled by his young QB's knee bang, is, nonetheless, tickled pink over Bob's celebrity status which has his jersey flying off the warehouse shelves and probably does almost as much to energize the Washington community as did February's Super win for Ravens-land.

And though none of these men led, or have yet to lead their respective clubs to the title, there's no denying the hullabaloo and revenue that such a style of play can generate: Vick (ATL '01-06 / PHI '09-pres), Young (TEN '06-10), Tebow (DEN '10-11), Newton (CAR '11-pres), Kaepernick (SF '11-pres) and Bob Griffin (DC '12-pres).

What this all means is, flash-QB, that college star who ran 5000 yards 'cause coach don't like to teach, and will now need 2-3 years to learn a whole new (pocket) skill-set, will, nevertheless, likely be drafted high & mighty because some owners will favor the more certain coinage from celebrity & athleticism over the harder to come by championship metal, Mr. Lombardi.

Whether you jump for joy 'cause you think your GM picked a crop of keepers or are pulling your hair out at their mind-boggling mental maneuvers, remember this, the NFL draft in NYC is a well-orchestrated, sometimes noisy, very crowded, well-lit, crap-shoot where the hand of greatest influence may be 1000s of miles away dropping anchor off the coast of Acapulco.

Now hop back in your plastic house, friend.  Don't want no bubble-boy incident on my hands.

Steven Keys

NFL Hunch Line

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