When slave traders held their slave auctions potential buyers would come up to the slaves, and pinch and prod them and check their teeth...to assess their potential for staying healthy enough to pick cotton, or pull a plow, or to do any other grunge work the slaveholder deemed necessary.
Two hundred years later, long after slavery was abolished, I can't help but compare the NFL draft to those ancient slave auctions. Oh sure, if you're a first rounder, you're going to receive a nice signing bonus...and they'll give you a team hat and a team jersey. But don't be fooled; these drafts are simply the modern version of a slave auction, the modern meat market only different because perhaps a quarter of the meat is Caucasian.
There's no probing and pinching on draft night...that's all pristine and proper. The draft candidates who elect to show up sit at dinner tables, a cocktail in hand, I-Phone at the ready for that most seductive phone call from a team's GM telling them they've been selected. The prodding and probing came weeks ago when the draft combine took place. They run the potential recruits through a number of physical tests, to determine their speed and stamina and strength. They even administer a kind of intelligence test called the Wonderlik that is meant to determine if the recruit has an IQ over 60 and is actually smart enough to find his way to the stadium.
And that's all the modern day slaveholders really care about; whether the slave has enough natural talent, limited intelligence, and strength to last five good years in the NFL. They don't care that 75% of these fellas will be too mangled to play after five years of battle. They don't care that that same 75% will be financially bankrupt, having plowed through their millions in bonus money and salary, with nothing left to support their brief, very brief high living lifestyle. If they did these slave holding grownups would put half of their bonuses and salary into a trust fund, to be doled out to support them in their post-football years.
Nor do the slave traders care very much about the slave's character. Tonight they will be drafting thieves and rapists and gang bangers in the first round...and keeping their fingers crossed that the dude can stay out of jail for football season.
I don't regularly watch the NFL draft ceremony (televised tonight on ESPN). I did watch a bit of it last year. The ESPN analysts will regurgitate a million words about so and so's chances to make the team...and how many opponents he can mangle, or how many touchdowns he'll score. Everyone will have already done their probing and prodding and there's nothing left to do but speculate on the quality of this year's "meat market".
I find it all very sad.