In professional sports, the top draft pick is chosen by the last-place team from the previous season, as they are in the NFL (national football league). Now, think about how this is justice for the player who gets picked first overall. They are chosen as the best of that year’s crop of eligible players to enter the league and save a team from mediocrity. They are heaped with multimillion dollar contracts that are front-end heavy, meaning that the kid gets a lot of money for simply signing on the dotted line, and then they’ll worry about playing the game later. The money’s great, but the player is usually relegated to a bottom-feeding team, one that possibly went winless the previous season, and could very well be a non-playoff team for the first 5 years of that player’s career.
When the lowest ranked team gets the first pick in the incoming player draft, the 2nd worst team gets the 2nd best player and so on, there is something wrong. Teams should be awarded for finishing the year at the top, aside from home-field advantage in the playoffs. And, more importantly, the players being drafted should be awarded for having such stellar college seasons. They should get, at a minimum, the 2nd overall pick in the draft. In my scenario, the last placed team would pick 1st, the 1st placed team would pick 2nd, the 2nd last team 3rd, the 2nd place team 4th and so on. Alternate with the lower ranked teams and the higher ranked teams, and the teams that make the draft picks and, most importantly, the draft picks themselves have a chance at something special.
This is a lottery draft in the sense that the player taken first overall is guaranteed to be a multimillionaire within a few weeks of pulling his new team’s jersey over his head on draft day. The chance of that player then hoisting the Super Bowl trophy the next year is slim to none, and that should be changed. Or, even better yet, the top-5 players in the draft could be declared free agents, able to sign with the highest bidder. That would guarantee huge contracts for these young kids who could then just play around, have fun and collect their 50 to 75 Million bucks (yes, that’s in good old Yankee greenbacks!), invest some and retire at the ripe old age of 21. A 25% surcharge would be added to the contract signed, and that money given to the charity of the year. Or, me.
In the business world, being drafted first overall would be like hiring Stephen King while he was in high school to a lifetime contract as your ghost writer for your horror genre writing career. Or, you could end up with Ryan Leaf, a young quarterback who was stellar in college ball and was picked second overall in 1998 by the San Diego Chargers. After heaping millions and millions of dollars up his wazoo, Ryan played in 21 games over 3 seasons for the Chargers, where he threw 14 touchdowns and 36 interceptions (for those unsure, these are very, very bad numbers). He can now be seen plying the waters in some tropical paradise whining that he’s down to his last 10 million; “Thanks, San Diego, and a special shout-out to my college coach and the players there who made me look oh so very much better than I ever was.”
But the way it is now, it’s a lot more like the best team being stuck with Paris Hilton for a multimillion dollar game of Jeopardy! and the worst team getting Stephen Hawking. However, the teams are taking chances on the health of the players staying the same or improving, and them not being killed or maimed before they can take to the field for their first NFL game.
It’s a lottery draft. The lottery is fixed and needs breaking. The way it is now, the teams that are out of the playoffs can play the rest of the season safely, limiting injuries and just having fun, hoping for that first overall draft pick. Drafted players should be limited to $1 million per year for the first 2 seasons, and then be able to break the owner’s safe.