Belfast Telegraph

NFL Draft: Sport is OK in the US of A

By Billy Weir

It really should come as no surprise to us that a nation that insists on having 21 letters in its name is no stranger to the odd initial or three.

Sport in the US of A is dominated by abbreviations for this and that (or T and T as they probably call it) and a cursory glance at the schedules this week proved my point.

First up on Sky we had the NBA play-offs in which it seems that every basketball team qualifies to play for a wee while longer while the NFL draft took centre stage last week.

For the uninitiated this is when the best American Footballers from college are selected, one by one, by the professional teams, starting with the worse team picking the best player until we get down to the rotund wheezy boy who is left standing on his own with a note from his mom.

This began with presenter Kevin Cadle appearing on screen with a Rubik's Cube because 'the NFL draft is about moulding and piecing your team together'. So, nothing to do with a Rubik's Cube then?

He would have been better coming out with a jigsaw and some plasticine, or the draft, rather than letting each team pick who they want, could have been a giant game of Guess Who with each team having to ask questions like 'does he have a giant neck?' or 'will he be involved in (insert scandal here) because he's just been handed $60m dollars at the age of 21?

First pick was a man with a giant neck called Eric Fisher who was selected for the KC Chiefs (formerly Kansas City and the Sunshine Band) and four hours later we got to the end as Matt Elam was picked by the Baltimore Ravens.

He was described as 'height deficient, but talented' a phrase, well one of them, that often adorned my school reports, but then we were told to join them for rounds two and three tomorrow, but I'll close the door on that draft if you don't mind.

Elsewhere the MLB (baseball), NHL (hockey with ice) and MLS (soccerball) continued while over in London WWE came to town for Late Night Raw.

This was wrestling from the O2 Arena but if, like me, you were brought up in an era where wrestling was on World of Sport with commentator Kent Walton welcoming you to Bridlington Town Hall to see two big fat men belly slapping then this will be an anathema to you.

I moved swiftly on to the UFC on ESPN. I thought UFC was something I'd noticed once on a gable wall around the Newtownards Road but in reality it is the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Imagine the fight scenes in Snatch inside a cage and you'll get the general idea although competitors don't fight for a caravan or have to adopt a ridiculous Irish accent to take part.

It's daft enough as a heavyweight bout featured a man with a huge beard and mullet called Roy Nelson, or Roy 'Big Country' Nelson, who was up against Cheick 'Spandau Ballet' Kongo. I may have made that second nickname up.

Big Roy showed he was one great thing smacking Mr Kongo, just a shadow of his former self, to the east of Eden and before I go through the whole Big Country songbook, I'd suggest you look away now.

ESPN also shows the NCAA. I was confused too, this is in fact colleges' lacrosse (pictured below), a sport we only know for being played at St Trinians, but it is very different in the States, with no players in short skirts or suspenders as far as I could ascertain.

Up first was Maryland against Virginia, the Cookies versus the Wolves I'm guessing, in a sport where men armed with those wee fishing nets you use in rock pools try to get a ball into an unfeasibly small goal, do battle.

And talking of battles, on Tuesday it was Notre Dame taking on Syracuse, or the Fighting Irish against the Orange, for the Boyne Bowl I suspect.

But if it's real fighting Irish you want then look to RTE and the GAA as League Sunday brought the curtain down on the NFL with Pat Spillane and Joe Brolly warming up for the Championship with one saying 'black' and the other arguing 'white'.

It was a bizarre highlights show, Dublin against Tyrone a cracking encounter, by all accounts, but we never got to see it as only some points were shown, although Joe wins the surreal link of the year award by managing to get Bruce Grobbelaar into his analysis. That's Bruce who played for Harare Harps.

He was also a mercenary but even he would have flinched as Spillane hit Brolly with a killer blow.

"As Joe will realise, as a member of a team who failed to put All-Irelands back to back ... " Ouch, get them in a cage with wee fishing nets to sort this one out. That would be OK with me.

Belfast Telegraph


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