There is Pete Rozelle's draft, which seems to be for the benefit of the Los Angeles Rams, and there is Leonard King's personal operation for the broken hearts who will be passed over by the National Football League clubs on Thursday and Friday.
The Rams have two first-round picks, a No. 2, two No. 3s and two No. 4s in the NFL selections this time. Already for the 1980 draft the Rams have a No. 1, two No. 2s, three No. 3s and two No. 4s. For 1981 they have a No. 1, two No. 2s, three No. 3s and two No. 7s. Break up the Rams!
Because Leonard King's Free Agent Camp in Atlanta on Saturday and Sunday was set up before the NFL switched its dates from May 1-2 to May 3-4, some players passed over by the NFL will be driving all night to get to Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta by 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
King, former personnel director for the Birmingham Americans of the old World Football League, will be able to offer consolation to the wounded prides of these snubbed in the NFL selection process.
They will have company in their misery, with nearly 1,000 expected to try out in Atlanta and, having been skipped over by the NFL, they will be free agents in the strictest interpretation, free to sign with any of the 28 clubs rather than just one. King says 350 registered for his system before knowing their fate in the NFL draft.
King has a smart operation, his own personal control of the better prospect's futures.
He charges an entry fee of $5 for each candidate who wants to be looked over by King and his staff, NFL scouts and Canadian Football League scouts. In addition, the candidates agree by contract to have King represent them if the sign with an NFL club as free agents.
King has also recycles players cut in previous seasons by the NFL, Cfl and WFL. Last year's tryout camp in Atlanta was free and 824 candidates showed up.
"I have a strong feeling for whether free agents can make it in the NFL," King says, noting that he picked up cornerback General Williams after he had been cut by the Dallas Cowboys and the Birmingham club dissolved when the WFL folded, and got him contract with the Washington Redskins.
Running back Walter Landers Clark College in Atlanta was snubbed by the 1978 NFL draft. After he ran two 4.4- and a 4.5-second 40 yards in King's free agent camp, the word spread and 19 NFL clubs called the next week. He made it with the Green Bay Packers.
Running back Kevin Millet of Louisville was passed over by the NFL draft, came to King's camp and made it with Minnesota. Defensive back Archie Allen of Morris Brown was cut last year by Oakland and has signed thie year with Los Angeles.
King sent letters about his camp to all college coaches and to the scouts of the 28 NFL and nine CFL clubs.
It may be significant that Jack Faulkner, scout for the acquisitive Rams, said yesterday, "I am going to the Atlanta free agent camp again; I wouldn't miss it for the world."