The NFL draft takes place in Chicago this week! One question: So what?

SHARE The NFL draft takes place in Chicago this week! One question: So what?
SHARE The NFL draft takes place in Chicago this week! One question: So what?

The world told us we weren’t good enough for the 2016 Olympics. The NFL has said by its silence that we’re too cold and snowy for a Super Bowl.

What do you give the city that can’t seem to win anything? The NFL draft. Well, yay for us. We applied to Harvard and instead got wait-listed by the University of Phoenix online program.

The draft, which has taken over part of our downtown for its Thursday-to-Saturday meat market, is a made-for-TV extravaganza. That’s it. Here is the extent of the local connection for us: When the studio host says, “We’re coming to you live from the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago,’’ it’s your cue to swell with pride. Then you can go back to changing the oil in your lawnmower.

The truth is that the NFL could hold the draft in an airplane hangar in Utah, and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to anybody or anything, including Chicago’s local economy. Vinnie and his pals from Hoboken, N.J., will get drunk at our local taverns, show up to boo the Jets’ and Giants’ picks, because they always do, and we’ll all move on.

I really don’t mean to be a party pooper. If somebody were to point out the reason for the party, I’d be happy to go along with it. But being told you’re hosting the draft is like a wife opening a Valentine’s Day present from her husband and laying eyes on a frying pan. What are we supposed to do with this?

I don’t know about you, but I was tired of the 2015 draft about six months ago. ESPN, ever under the sheets with the NFL, continues to shove it down our throats. Day after day, week after week, migraine after migraine, the network has fed us a steady diet of draft coverage. There will have been more airtime devoted to this draft than to the 2016 presidential election by the next inauguration. It’s why, for no good reason, you find yourself answering, “Has a motor but is tight in the hips’’ when the question is, “What do you think of Republican candidate Rand Paul?’’

Poor Ron Jaworski. He knows Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota better than he knows anyone in his family. He has been talking about the two top college quarterbacks for months, breaking down their tendencies to the molecular level and judging their fitness for public office, the priesthood and an MIT Ph.D. program. Dragging himself out of bed in the morning must take enormous strength.

What will Tampa Bay do with the No. 1 overall pick? How many times do I have to answer you, ESPN? I don’t know. I stopped caring about 300 Todd McShay mock drafts ago.

It’s not just the draft, of course. The combine has become a big TV event, and why wouldn’t it be? What says “entertainment’’ more than college players running the 40-yard dash? The NFL actually had a two-hour, primetime special last week to announce each team’s 2015 schedule. God help us all.

I’m not blind to what’s staring me in the face, that’s there’s a huge market for this stuff. If there weren’t, then the NFL would cease bombarding us with all of this. But using that logic, somebody please explain the continuing existence of the Pro Bowl, a game that should be put out of our misery. Do we really care about the NFL this much or are we being told we should care and following robotically behind?

It’s hard to see what all the excitement is about for Chicago’s purposes. The league is giving us “Draft Town’’ in Grant Park this week, filled with all sorts of interactive events for fans. But if there’s not a booth where you can feel Mel Kiper Jr.’s magnificent hair, then none of it makes sense. A Roger Goodell dunk tank? Yes, please. A “Know Your NFL Felon’’ live game show? I’m in.

Winston and Mariota have said they won’t be in Chicago for the draft, so the commissioner will have to hug their proxies. You won’t want to miss that. There will be no head coaches or general managers present, either, the same as always.

This is the emperor’s new draft, and the only question is, Who is the emperor, mayor Rahm Emanuel or Goodell?

I’m not sensing draft fever around town, but, then again, I’ve been covering a lot of Blackhawks playoff games lately. You know, actual athletic events that mean something.

The NFL believes it is bigger than anything else and thus can do anything it wants. Judging by how it has taken over downtown, it appears to be correct on both counts.

The draft is almost here.

Let me work up some more enthusiasm. Rah.


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