It was an eventful weekend for NFL fans. The 2017 NFL Draft is complete. Many are still buzzing, hung over, or complaining about what they’re team did, what they didn’t do, and how closer or farther they are from winning the Super Bowl. Ask any fan outside of Cleveland and they’ll probably say they’ll be playing for a Super Bowl at the end of the year.
To those of you who don’t give a damn about the draft and don’t get the appeal, take a deep breath. It’s over now. You don’t have to hear about trades, mock drafts, or guys named Mike Mayock for at least another eight months. Trust me, those months will go by fast though.
As an ardent NFL fan, which I’ve made clear on this blog before, I’ve always had mixed feelings about the draft. It’s always been more style than substance for me. I see my favorite teams picking players and I know in the back of my head that few of these players are going to make a lick of difference. Getting worked up about it feels like energy that could be better used telling more sexy stories.
That’s not to say it has no value. The NFL Draft is the raw ore from which the NFL’s players are forged. Whether they’re first round picks or undrafted, they become the iconic athletes that help make any sports league a success. Given the NFL’s $13 billion in revenue last year, it’s pretty damn clear that they’re doing something right.
In watching the NFL Draft, though, I found myself making some unusual connections between this bawdy spectacle and my own personal endeavors. Specifically, I saw a distinct parallel between the NFL Draft and it relates to our efforts at finding romance or telling kinky stories.
I know. That sounds like an odd collection of thoughts, especially from someone who talks a lot about sex robots on his blog. Bear with me. I promise there is some substance to these thoughts and it’s relevant to more than just aspiring erotica/romance writers.
The NFL Draft, at its core, is an elaborate job interview coupled with an investment opportunity. A finite number of teams looks at the vast pool of applicants and tries to determine which among them is worth development. That development costs time, money, and sometimes frustration. Any sport, be it football or jump rope, is going to involve wins and losses. It’s just part of the process.
In that sense, there are some uncanny similarities with how we go about seeking romantic partners. It’s not like just hiring a prostitute or having a one night stand. That’s more akin to hiring a plumber for a service. Finding a romantic partner is like finding someone you’re willing to share a home, a bathroom, and bank account with. There’s a lot more at stake.
In seeking romantic partners, you can’t just look at someone and determine whether they’re worth the emotional investment. Even if someone has tits the size of basketballs or a dick the size of an elephant’s tusk, you need to know more about someone to determine whether you want more than a one night stand.
NFL scouts, and the teams they work for, don’t get much value out of one night stands. They want to find players that will be part of their respective teams for the long haul, working hard for them and producing for them on the field. That’s why no scout will ever just look at a prospect on the service and decide on the spot whether they’re a fit for their team.
For those seeking meaningful romance, they need to be every bit as thorough as a competent NFL scout. They need to study a prospects measurables, immeasurables, and everything in between. It’s not enough to know whether someone is capable of loving you back, just like it’s not enough to know whether someone can physically play the game of football. You need to know that the chemistry is there.
It happens in the NFL all the time. Sometimes, a prospective player will have all the skills and intangibles to be a quality player. Unfortunately, they end up going to a team that doesn’t fit them. The chemistry isn’t there and they end up languishing, like someone caught in an unhealthy relationship.
One well-documented example in the NFL was Steve Young, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. Young was an undeniably talented player, but had the misfortune of being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a time when they were among the worst teams in the league.
Then, after an overdue breakup, Young was traded the 49ers where he eventually took over after the team’s other Hall-of-Fame quarterback, Joe Montana, left for Kansas City. It turned out to be a great match. Young thrived in San Francisco, eventually culminating in a Super Bowl victory in 1994.
Looking at Steve Young’s story, you can draw some similarities to someone who ended up with someone in a place where it just wasn’t going to work. It took some effort from both sides to come together and an investment of resources to make something productive out of it. Replace football with love, passion, and having to share a bathroom and you’ve got yourself a template for forging a meaningful romance.
It’s also highlights something that a lot of NFL fans mistakenly believe about the NFL Draft. They’ll say it’s entirely a crap shoot. Some very smart and sincere people might even agree with it. If you look at the numbers, it seems logical. Even for first round draft picks, nearly a third of them end up leaving the team. For any pick below the fifth round, the odds are even worse.
However, to say the NFL Draft is a crap shoot is like saying love is only an anomaly. The fact that the NFL is so successful and finding love is such a prominent part of our lives is a clear indicator that there’s more than just random chance at work.
I don’t deny that there is some element of luck involved with the NFL Draft. Who knew that a sixth round draft pick from Michigan would go onto win five Super Bowls or that a number one overall pick from LSU would be better known for loving “purple drank” than throwing touchdown passes? Like finding love, sometimes you do need a bit of luck to be in the right place at the right time.
However, luck only goes so far. Players like Tom Brady and Joe Montana had legendary coaches like Bill Belichick and Bill Walsh teaching them. It goes both ways too. Those coaches are legendary because they could mold these players into the champions they eventually became. They need each other and together, they achieve their goals.
In meaningful love, it goes both ways. Whether you’re playing the role of a scout or a prospective player, you both need to make an investment. Those investments need to complement one another. They need to be part of a good situation with all the right emotions and all the right desires.
Like the NFL draft, there will be mistakes and poor decisions. There are romantic equivalents of draft busts who seem like potential super stars, but turn out to be toxic. I’ve already talked about Lawrence Phillips in a previous post. There are other big busts like Ryan Leaf, Tony Mandarich, and Tim Couch.
These busts are akin to our misguided passions that lead us into relationships that are doomed to fail. There are NFL scouts who thought they could fix the flaws with players like Lawrence Phillips. There are just as many people who think they can fix the flaws in a prospective lover. Most of the time, those efforts fail.
Finding love and finding pro-bowl football players is hard, but the fact it’s so hard is part of what makes it so meaningful. That’s because when we find love or a pro-bowl player, the investments we make pay off in a big way. A football team has a player that can help them win. A lover can find someone who fulfills them on an intimate, emotional level.
It takes a lot of work. It often requires quite a few heartbreaks and draft busts. It can hurt. It can be costly. It can seem like you’ll never win that championship. Like sports, though, the hardship that comes with finding love is part of what makes it so meaningful when you win.