These seems to be no limit to how big NFL can become

SHARE These seems to be no limit to how big NFL can become

As I staggered away from ‘‘Draft Town’’ into the real world — aka Chicago —I wondered why I didn’t buy NFL stock when I was a young man. Even when I was a middle-aged man.

I’d be a multimillionaire by now. It would be like buying Microsoft stock in 1980, Facebook stock in 2004, Ford stock in 1903.

Yes, I know there’s no such thing as NFL stock — it’s not a public corporation, is it, King Roger? — but a fellow can dream.

If the choosing of young men to fill out the rosters of 32 franchises — whose players become old, crippled and/or overpriced within a few years — can draw this kind of crowd and money, then I want some.

My God, is the NFL successful! Sell ice to Eskimos? The NFL could sell sand to the desert and stink to skunks.

People in the crowd that stretched from Michigan to Lake Shore Drive and from Jackson to Balbo — the heart of ‘‘Draft Town’’ — on Thursday were in a cheerful mood.

There were fans wearing jerseys from every team, it seemed, even those of the distant Jaguars and Chargers. And what they were doing was hanging around, admiring the NFL displays and eating and drinking like this was the Taste of Chicago.

But those who couldn’t get into the Auditorium Theatre to watch the first two picks — Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota — not be there, well, they watched the giant outdoor screen and ESPN monitors. And they stood in line to do such things as observe Super Bowl rings behind bulletproof glass.

It’s worth saying a little something about that display. There were guards about, and each side of the display featured sliding magnifying glasses that enabled fans to zoom in on the diamonds, rubies and gold.

There was, indeed, the distinct feel of viewing the wealth of royalty — things not meant for us, the regular folks, the supplicants at the altar of a brutal game.

Then, too, there was a gleaming, polished Pete Rozelle Trophy (Super Bowl MVP) under glass, looking like something Smaug would have his tail curled around. It was evident this booty is part of what the NFL has going for it — the re-creation of a warrior world where casualties are many, winners are few and the fabulous spoils go to the victors.

Among those are the league office, the team owners, the TV networks, the handful of gazillionaire quarterbacks and wildly rich commissioner Roger Goodell himself.

The Bears took wide receiver Kevin White with their first pick, and most fans seemed to approve. (Earlier, I had spoken with some fans in Eagles jerseys, asking one whether he would boo any selection the Eagles made in any round. He pointed to his buddy and said, ‘‘He will.’’)

And the Bears’ second-round pick Friday was announced by legendary middle linebacker Dick Butkus. No. 51 got a rousing cheer.

And then he said, ‘‘With the 39th pick in the 2015 draft — and I like this — the Chicago Bears take Eddie Goldman, defensive tackle from Florida State.’’

Not long after that, I was contacted by a Jewish friend who wanted to know if this might be the first Jewish nose tackle in Bears history. I said I doubted it.

The thing here is that the NFL isn’t going away. And it’s only going to get bigger.

We trash Goodell because it’s always fun to make fun of CEOs and the filthy rich, but he has taken the baton from former commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who took it from Rozelle, and has moved it even further into the profit side of the ledger.

And this isn’t even close to the top. The NFL has blown through scandals of drug-taking, cheating by coaches, domestic violence and crimes of all sorts and barely winced. If you can sell tickets to draft day, you can sell tickets to weigh-ins, minicamps, weightlifting sessions, NFL movies, almost anything the players and the big bosses do.

And there is Europe, South America (someday), Russia, and China to consider. Can you even imagine a true Super Bowl between, say, the Bears and the Moscow Mobsters, with Russian president Vladimir Putin sitting in a box next to a U.S. president?

In the Redskins’ hospitality tent, there was an intact locker, behind glass, featuring the gear of Pierre Garcon. Helmet, shoes, pads, sports drink, mouthwash, jersey hanging like a saint’s cloak. A corpse could have been set inside the tomb, maybe with a Super Bowl ring on its waxy finger.

Let’s have this thing in Chicago every year.

From Mel Kiper Jr. to safety Jaquiski Tartt (Samford, second round, to 49ers), it’s too much to share with anyone else.


Twitter: @ricktelander

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