When your COVID-19 era to-do list has dwindled to making sure your normally hyperactive teenager doesn’t sleep 23 hours a day, you improvise.
You maybe, I don’t know, talk to Jared Allen. See how the four-time NFL All-Pro defensive lineman, who calf-roped 136 quarterbacks in his potential Hall of Fame career, is doing down in Nashville chasing after daughters Brinley Noelle, 8, and Lakelyn, 5.
“Just hanging out at the house doing home-schooling and all that good stuff,” the former Vikings star said. “We have a pretty big yard. When it’s not raining, we get out there and hang out. My wife [Amy] and I don’t leave the house much at all. All’s quiet.”
As he speaks, though, you see the NFL-related tweets scroll by.
… NFL expands playoff field to 14 teams! … Buccaneers announce Tom Brady will wear No. 12! … The NFL draft will march on with “good social distance role modeling” of 10 or fewer people — all 6 feet apart — in every draft room and player’s house! …
The NFL isn’t doing anything wrong by conducting its high-speed business at a safe distance from a low-speed world that’s buffering. Nor is it behaving admirably as some sort of heroic distraction for people worrying about loved ones or finding a barber and a roll of toilet paper before training camp.
Let’s hope the NFL and its talking TV heads understand the latter when they go live with the draft April 23-25.
A nation will no doubt tune in. Right, Jared? Um, you do watch the draft, Mr. Allen?
The short answer:
“I do not,” Allen said.
The more entertaining old-school answer: “I know the kids being drafted are having the time of their life …”
“I think the draft is probably the most boring thing to put on TV imaginable,” Allen said. “I guess I’ve never been a big fan of sitting there and getting all crazy and ecstatic about a guy who hasn’t done a single thing in the NFL yet.”
Bless you, 69. Bless you.
It’s kind of like a defensive end named Dimitrius Underwood playing in the Big Ten, getting drafted in the first round and quitting after his first practice.
Or like a defensive end named Jared Allen playing for Division I-AA Idaho State, getting drafted in the fourth round and earning the right to scoff at all draft-related hoopla forevermore.
Allen was invited to the scouting combine after posting 17½ sacks as a senior. He also did the Pro Days at Idaho State and San Jose State. He jumped through every hoop the NFL asked him to.
“I also had the fun experience of answering all the off-the-field questions and all that nonsense,” said Allen, a noted hellion in his youth. “It’s different for everybody.”
Much has been made about how the coronavirus shutdown is impacting the draft. Pro days were canceled. Team visits were wiped out. Lifelong scouts spent all of March at home for the first time in their careers.
Time to panic? Nah. In 1974, long before the draft evolved into the finely tuned, analytics-based guesswork it is today, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster. Then, when 17 rounds were complete, they signed Donnie Shell.
Four of the top 125 picks and one undrafted free agent. All five are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“Well,” Allen said, “the NFL today is known for overthinking things. We have meetings about meetings.
“I personally don’t think the team visits mean much. They’re still able to talk to guys on the phone. You’re going to be able to do video conferences. You have all the tape on these guys. Teams already know all the red flags. They got all the info at the combine before everything got shut down.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think this will impact the [long-term success of a team’s] draft in any way.”
So, business as usual. Just 6 feet apart. And no 20-second bearhug from the commish.