Moving NFL draft carnival to May means more time for barkers and bytes


South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney talks to the media after he competed in drills for NFL representatives April 2, 2014. (Mary Ann Chastain/Associated Press)
Sally Jenkins
Columnist April 22

Hurry, hurry, step right up to the NFL draft, a month-long spectacle in which tradesmen part with their money in the hope of winning a hopeless game of chance. Oddities and Illusions! Spin the wheel — everyone is a winner, and everyone is an expert! It’s the longest self-promoting carnival in the world, a tented NFL city of lights, sights, and unparalleled wonderment in which no one ever shuts up, on TV all day and all night. We’ve got acres of amusements, more fascinating than six-legged pigs or dog-faced boys, led by your host Merril Hoge, Certainest Man in the World.

There is Jadeveon Clowney, whom Hoge calls the Man With “A-TROC-ious Fundamentals!” He is an Anatomical Wonder: a 6-foot-5 266-pound defensive end who can pick up tennis balls while backpedaling and leap seven sandbags in one bound! At the NFL combine he did everything but lie on a bed of spikes while a concrete block was broken on his chest with a sledgehammer, and then get up and play Yankee Doodle on his teeth with two axes. Most marvelous of all, he appears dead until shocked with money, and then comes suddenly alive!

Sally Jenkins is a sports columnist for The Washington Post. View Archive

Step right up, step right up and find your way through the maze of mirrors. Who will take Clowney? You sir, Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith, will you try your hand with Clowney to win Fabulous Doo-Dads and amaaaazing prizes? Or will you trade down because you prefer linebacker Khalil Mack? Or best of all for the league and ESPN, will you treat us to a suspenseful performance of the Man With the Revolving Head, and send the word out that the top draft pick is available for dealing?

Come folks, part with the price of admission and you’ll see amazing never-before-seen sights from the most remote corners of the world — a show so powerfully unending it takes weeks of windup just to get to the stage at Radio City Music Hall, and robs even the NBA playoffs of attention. Featuring the World’s Fattest Announcers! Fireproof Former Players! Ladies with hair borrowed from Fifi Ronay the Cycling Dog! Elastic Expert Men — watch them wriggle out of their opinions on their bellies like reptiles. Step right up and see Mel Kiper! Amazing Half-Man, Half-Ham!

Welcome one and welcome all, you won’t believe your eyes.

The Post Sports Live crew dissects the design, meaning and timing of Robert Griffin III's new Adidas logo, which the quarterback revealed on his new Instagram account. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)

For one thin dime — which multiplied by 97 million subscribers means about $3 billion in operating profit for ESPN — you can see the Secret Museum of Mankind. The world’s greatest collection of mysteries! The direction of Human Evolution On Display.

Novelty, variety, beauty!

Ladies and gentlemen, you’re about to behold a sight so strange, so electrifying, so utterly preposterous, that I urge you who are easily frightened or upset, who suffer from nervous disorders, weak hearts, or queasy stomachs, who experience nightmares, and any children under the age of 16, to forgo witnessing this exhibit. There are just two kinds of freaks, ladies and gentlemen: those created by God, and those made by man. The creature behind this curtain is a living, breathing human being that once was . . . well, that’s another story that happened a long time ago, a long way from here. Look if you must. It’s . . . It’s . . .

Johnny Manziel — the World’s Most Dangerous Show Pony!

All eyes to the sawdust ring, and watch as the fabulous Johnny Football attempts to cross the slender silver strand, with pads on his shoulders and a blindfolding helmet on his head . . . rendering him totally senseless! Silence pleassssse.

Why he’s a human dynamite factory! So explosive, coins fuse together in his hands!

Watch carefully now: He will attempt to disappear right before your very eyes. As Jon Gruden said to NFL.com: “It takes a tremendous amount of guts and courage to go make a play when there’s nothing there, instead of throwing the ball away.”

A performance by Johnny Manziel is not for everyone. As I said, he is not for the faint of constitution. Warren Moon remarked on SiriusXM, “He’s a risk-taker, and he gets away with a lot of those things. I just think in the NFL, some of those things, he’s going to have to take out of his game.”

There it is, folks: Because of the dwindling number of this rare, magnificent, seldom-seen species, you may never witness this sight again. Just consider: A dozen quarterbacks have been chosen with the first overall pick in the past 16 NFL drafts — and many of them have never been found again.

Where will Johnny Manziel’s Traveling Circus of the Impossible and Incredible go to next? We can’t know. Cleveland has the No. 4 pick and needs a magician with a cabinet of wonders. So does Minnesota with the No. 8 pick, but may not draft him because Coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t want Manziel’s “sideshow.”

We have a winner! Congratulations, son, you’ve won a genuine NFL draft pick. And if you say you are 100-percent sure how it will turn out, you’re the greatest confidence peddler since Ponzi. Awww, somebody else has a frowny face. Better luck next time.

For more by Sally Jenkins, visit washingtonpost.com/jenkins.

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