“With the first pick of the 2012 NFL Draft …”

When it comes to pro football, if we’re talking about the offseason, there’s one time that piques my interest.  That’s when a few hundred young men have their name chosen by NFL teams and announced by league officials in New York City every April.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at the footba...
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at the football open house at Stanford Stadium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year’s NFL Draft starts tonight.  It’ll be my longtime favorite team, the Colts, picking first.  Unless the young man has a fatal accident before his name is announced (heaven forbid), it’ll be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck having his name announced first.

Thanks for the memories, Peyton Manning.  It’s just too bad I’ll have to see you in a Denver Broncos uniform from now on.

If there were anyone I don’t mind so much seeing take Peyton’s place (did I just say that?), it would be Andrew Luck.  He’s big, strong, has good athleticism, he’s smart, he’s a leader and a winner.  And, irony of ironies, he has something in common with Manning in that he pretty much literally grew up around the game.  Peyton had Archie as a dad in the NFL, who was a terrific quarterback usually stuck with bad to mediocre teams.  Andrew has a father named Oliver who was a solid but somewhat unspectacular quarterback in the pros.

The draft has shown through a lot of years just how much of an NFL fanatic I’ve been.  I used to memorize stats and information out of Football Digest or The Sporting News to prepare myself for it.  It’s one of the few times out of the year I’d go well out of my way to buy a copy of USA Today, before and after the draft, to catch up on any of the latest moves to see if any team has moved up or down before and to track and pretty much grade how each team did when it was all over.

In my younger years, I used to analyze each team’s needs and do a little mock draft of my own.

This year hasn’t been much different as far as studying what each team might need and who they might grab.  Just like I used to do when I was a kid and players like Walter Payton were getting ready to start their pro careers.

My interest in the past has been high enough that I used to record the entire first round on ESPN so I could watch it later, pick by pick, enjoying the reactions of the fans in the audience and Mel Kiper’s little rants when his predictions didn’t quite pan out.

That’s how much of an NFL Draft nut I am.  I don’t see that changing any year soon.

Let the Luck Era for the Colts begin!

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