It’s Cinco de Mayo all year long for the local Mexican eateries that bear that name — but the day itself is always one of the busiest days of the year, local restaurant managers said.
Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for “fifth of May,” is “the biggest weekend of the year,” said Arturo Castro, assistant manager at Cinco De Mayo Mexican Bar & Grill at 304 E. Alexis Road.
The eatery’s annual celebration will be bigger than last year, featuring the return of a jalapeño-eating contest at 5 p.m. May 4 and 5, Castro said.
Also on the calendar is a Tony Orlando revue and Elvis tribute contest 2-5 p.m. May 4 and folkloric dancers at 5 p.m. May 4 and 5. Starting at 4 p.m. May 5, there will be a live band downstairs and DJ and karaoke upstairs. Happy hour, featuring 12-ounce margaritas for $3.75, is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Carlos Fuentes, owner of La Fiesta Restaurante in Maumee, agreed Cinco de Mayo is “the biggest day of the year.”
The 1406 S. Reynolds Road eatery will feature a tent in the parking lot on May 5. Pints of draft beer and Mexican bottled beer will be $2.75. Margaritas will also be on special. DJ Excel will perform all night starting at 3 p.m. The Bradberries will perform at 6 p.m. There will also be giveaways all day.
“Any day we can give something back to our customers and pay them back what they give to us all year round is a good day,” Fuentes said. “This is the way I see it — a day you can celebrate with your customers.”
La Fiesta will also host a “warm-up party” May 3 and 4, featuring jumbo margaritas for $6.25 and 23-ounce domestic drafts for $2.99.
“A lot of people think Cinco de Mayo is Independence Day for Mexico, but it’s not,” said El Camino Real owner Jesus Angel. That’s Sept. 16. The May 5 holiday honors a great military victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
The festivities at El Camino Real, 2500 W. Sylvania Ave., will kick off May 2 with “the biggest guacamole ever made,” featuring free guacamole and chips to the first 100 people starting at 3 p.m., Angel said. Guacamole mash will be free to the first 100 people May 4.
The eatery will also feature a jalapeño toreado-eating contests on May 2, 3 and 5, burrito-eating contests on May 3 and 5 and a taco-eating contest on May 4. Folkloric dancers and a mariachi band will perform May 3. May 4 will feature $1 off drinks. May 5 will also feature a variety of DJs from local radio stations and plenty of giveaways all weekend, Angel said.
El Vaquero — with locations at The Docks, on Secor Road and in Perrysburg — will feature “five days of fun” starting May 1, said general manager Arne Lopez. There will be live DJs broadcasting on 101.5 The River from all three locations on May 5.
Specials include all Mexican beers, buckets of beer and pitchers of margaritas.
“It’s a party,” Lopez said. “It’s going to be a great day for a deal.”
Jeanie Kunzer, owner of Loma Linda, is excited because Cinco de Mayo falls on the Swanton eatery’s Margarita Monday this year.
“You know what happens when Cinco de Mayo finally falls on Margarita Monday — margaritas on special, beer specials, food specials, entertainment and fun on the patio!” Kunzer said.
Kunzer’s birthday is May 7, so she usually makes Cinco de Mayo a weeklong celebration.
May 2 and 3 will feature a live mariachi band at Loma Linda. There will also be a live band May 5.
The family-owned eatery, at 10400 Airport Hwy., has been in business since 1955 and was the first Mexican restaurant in Toledo. The eatery will celebrate its 59th year in business June 9.
“Cinco de Mayo is a big one, but our anniversary will be even bigger yet,” Kunzer said.
Ventura’s, 7742 W. Bancroft St., will feature $2 Mexican beers, $3 margaritas, half-off appetizer specials and live entertainment on May 3 and 5, said general manager Valerie Mundt-Scott.
Mi Hacienda, 3302 Glanzman Road, will offer food and drink specials all weekend, including half-off beer, 12-ounce margaritas and jumbo house margaritas during happy hour from 2-6 p.m. May 5-6. Food specials include a $5.99 taco dinner on May 5 and $2 off fajitas on May 6. There will be a DJ on the patio on May 5.
The Toledo Zoo will host its 14th annual Cinco de Mayo event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 4, including performances from DJ Tony Rios at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the El Corazon de Mexico Ballet Folklorico at noon and 2 p.m. There will also be a piñata at 1 p.m. and cultural crafts throughout the day, said zoo events coordinator Jen Brassil. The events are free with a paid zoo admission.
“Compared to other Cinco de Mayo celebrations, we’re very family-oriented,” Brassil said. “I think people just love to see the performances and all the costumes.”
Bowling Green State University’s Latino Student Union and Latino Networking Alliance will celebrate Cinco de Mayo a week early. Its Latinopalooza event, featuring “food, games and fun” will take place 1-5 p.m. April 26 on the University Hall lawn.
Archive for April, 2014
It’s Cinco de Mayo all year long for the local Mexican eateries that bear that name — but the day itself is always one of the busiest days of the year, local restaurant managers said.
Comic book fans have paused in collective wonder over DC Comics’ recent launch of a new weekly series and announcements of two more on the way. The venerable comic book house has taken a clear back seat to rival Marvel Comics during the past several years, but an infusion of weekly publishing projects brings some excitement to readers who may have fallen away from the company after the 2011 revamping of its entire line.
Batman Eternal purports to celebrate the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary with a published weekly title that began earlier this month and whose story encompasses the entire universe of Batman characters. In its first few installments, stalwart Commissioner Jim Gordon’s been accused of the deaths of several Gothamites after derailing a subway train during a perp takedown. Batman’s on the case, though, and heroes like Batwoman, Red Robin, Batgirl and others will join in the investigation soon.
On May 3, which happens to be Free Comic Book Day, the weekly called The New 52: Futures End begins. Its narrative jumps readers five years into a possible future of the DC Universe and the aftermath of a war with an alternate Earth. The central character is Batman Beyond, the hero of the animated TV series of the same name. The crux of the title rests upon skewed versions of classic DC characters, and the company claims the story will “forever alter the direction of the New 52.”
Then, in October, DC launches Earth 2: World’s End, which also concerns an alternate Earth, this one a nod to the publisher’s properties from the 1940s. Few details have been released on the series, but teaser artwork for it indicates more apocalyptic goings-on.
Weekly comic book series are not easy to produce. In an age when monthly titles — the industry standard for decades — are late to the shelves on a regular basis, a weekly series seems a foolhardy gamble. Comic companies must maintain a strict schedule on weeklies and by utilizing numerous writers and artists they create backup protocols should any part of the machine fail.
DC had a major hit with its 2006 weekly opus, 52, but has never truly matched it since. Maybe 2014 will put it back on the hit parade — and on schedule.
Tom Burden of Grypshon Industries, who just returned to Northwest Ohio from attending a military conference in Columbus, leaves again April 30 to compete in the International Business Model Competition in Utah.
Grypshon is one of 42 semifinalist teams competing in the International Business Model Competition (IBMC) held May 1-3 at the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
The field of teams from around the world involves nearly 2,000 students from 200 schools in 20 countries that have competed at IBMC-affiliated competitions this academic year.
The 42 teams are competing for the title of global champion, the IBMC trophy and $25,000 in first place prize money. The teams will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to and receive feedback from mentors provided by the competition, list to guest speakers discuss startup topics, and go on a field trip to the “Silicon Slopes” in Provo.
Burden and his Grypshon team won third place in the Business Innovation Competition held by the University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation. That competition began in February and the winners were announced April 15.
Grypshon also won first place in the student category of the Pitch & Pour event at UT in January and won the Startup Weekend Toledo competition at UT in September 2013.
Burden attended the Ohio National Guard Association’s state conference and exhibition held April 25-26 in Columbus. He is a member of the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard Base at Toledo Express Airport.
Burden said he had the opportunity to meet with Major Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst at the ONGA conference. She has served as the Adjutant General at Joint Force Headquarters in Ohio since January 2011.
Burden said they discussed Grypshon’s products and their applications with the armed forces. He said she was impressed with the company’s products designed to provide a safer work environment for airmen performing maintenance and repairs on jet aircraft.
General Ashenhurst is a member of the Governor’s cabinet and is responsible for the command of the Ohio National Guard and the military readiness of the Ohio Militia. The Ohio National Guard consists of the Ohio Army National Guard, Ohio Air National Guard, Ohio Military Reserve and Ohio Naval Militia, totaling more than 17,000 personnel. She began her military career by joining the Ohio Army National Guard in 1978.
Burden said that he also had the opportunity to network with several other generals and high-ranking officers of Ohio National Guard from around the state who attended the conference.
Burden is a mechanical engineering technology student at UT who is scheduled to graduate in May and a native of Celina, Ohio.
Lydia Ko won her first tour event as an LPGA member at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and will move to No. 2 in the world.
She just turned 17 years old and the $270,000 winner’s check is a nice birthday gift to herself.
She had been the fourth-ranked player in the world on the Rolex Rankings, but will jump over Toledo-born Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen to claim the No. 2 spot behind Inbee Park.
Park’s last win came at the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open. If Ko continues to collect wins and top-10 finishes, she will soon catch the world No. 1.
Ko won the CN Canadian Women’s Open in both 2012 and 2013, but was still an amateur. She turned professional last October and her first win as a pro came at the Swinging Skirts Ladies Masters held in Taiwan in December on the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Tour.
This is her fourth top-10 finish of the year on the LPGA Tour and with $505,000 in total earnings moves to No.4 in the Race to the CME Globe.
Park, Pettersen and Lewis won all five women’s major championships in 2013 and were touted as the “Big 3″ of women’s golf.
Ko is serving notice that she is a force not to be overlooked. With other young players like Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson, the LPGA Tour has a wealth of talented players to compete with the veterans for dominance.
Toledo area golf fans can catch the ladies of the LPGA Tour when they visit Highland Meadows Golf Club July 14-20 for the Marathon Classic.
State Senators Edna Brown and Randy Gardner hosted a public forum on Ohio House Bill 289 that seeks to reform options with respect to Joint Economic Development Zones (JEDZ) on April 25 at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg.
HB 289, as passed by a vote of 89-8 in the House, would eliminate any future zones but possibly grandfather in existing zones. The bill is currently before the Senate Finance Committee and is likely to be amended in the Senate, said Gardner, who said there are currently eight to 10 different variations of the bill as working documents in the Senate.
The Finance Committee meets again next week and would likely review the bill. Gardner, a Republican, expects a version of HB 289 could come to the Senate floor by the end of May.
“This issue is so vitally important to this area of Northwest Ohio. We are vigilant and monitoring the situation,” said Brown, a Democrat who is the Senate Minority Whip.
If the Senate passes it, that bill would go back to the House for concurrence. If the House doesn’t concur, it would go to a conference committee of the House and Senate, said State Rep. Barbara Sears, who voted for HB 289 and was present at the public forum.
Brown, Gardner and Sears said the house bill on JEDZs came about due to abuse of the zones in the central and southern parts of Ohio, with House Majority Leader Sears noting that zones are being used correctly in Northwest Ohio.
“The purpose of this forum is to allow people to let us know how they feel about the bill,” Gardner said.
“We’ve gotten more feedback from this part of the state than any other part since the bill was passed by the House,” Brown said.
About 10 people from the crowd of about 50 in attendance spoke at the forum. One email received by Gardner’s office from Steve Serchuk, a local commercial real estate developer who encouraged the senators to vote no or guarantee the continuation of existing JEDZs in Ohio, was read at the forum.
Eileen Granata, law director for the City of Toledo, read a statement from Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins who was unable to attend the forum. She reported that Collins and his chief of staff had already testified on the bill in Columbus.
“While the City of Toledo views HB 289 as having a negative impact on our ability to collaborate with our partners, this process has demonstrated that the Ohio General Assembly is willing to listen to the concerns of communities like Toledo,” Collins stated in his letter to Brown and Gardner.
“The City of Toledo believes that the economic stability of not just the City, but the region, will be determined by our ability to collaborate with our neighbors,” Collins stated.
Michael Beasley, administrator for the City of Oregon, told the senators that a JEDZ is one of few tools available to help communities compete for jobs.
“It’s about jobs and revenue for communities in Northwest Ohio. We need more tools not fewer tools,” Beasley said.
“You don’t throw away the entire tool, you fix the tool,” said Andy Glenn, chairman of the Springfield Township trustees. He reported that township has benefited from the major development at I-475 and Airport Highway due to the JEDZ with the City of Toledo.
Sheila McAdams, an attorney representing Spencer Township and former law director for the City of Maumee, said the JEDZs help avoid annexation battles and encourage cooperation among the various government units.
McAdams said the JEDZ the township has with the Village of Whitehouse created the only significant development in the township. It has provided substantial benefits for the businesses and residents of the community with revenues from it helping to pay for ambulance, fire and police services.
Angela Kuhn, mayor of Whitehouse, concurred believing the bill would have a negative impact on income and economic development for that village if the JEDZ was discontinued.
Chuck Hershel, a Monclova Township trustee and chairman of the JEDZ with the township and the cities of Maumee and Toledo, cited the revenues the township received and services improved. Monclova Township receives about $275,000 in revenue from the JEDZ and has used it to purchase a new $500,000 ladder truck for the fire department and toward police services provided by the Lucas County Sheriff’s Department. Hershel said that Maumee and Toledo have provided infrastructure that has benefit the JEDZ there.
However, not everyone agrees that the JEDZ has benefited business and the community there.
“We pay for all those services with our property taxes and then we get taxed with another 1.5 percent by the zone with no support. We have received nothing back from it,” said Dave Jankowski, owner of Jann’s Netcraft, a business located within the JEDZ in Monclova Township.
Peter Ujvagi, a former state representative and now chief of policy and legislation for Lucas County, said JEDZs have increased regional cooperation in Northwest Ohio.
“Hopefully, the message gets back to Columbus how serious this issue is,” Ujvagi said.
Gardner encouraged people to email his office with their comments and input on HB289 and JEDZs at email@example.com.
By Chase Will, Toledo Free Press Staff Writer
On May 1, The Mad Ave. Collective will host Holy Toledo: You Got That Star Power, an event that offers anyone aspiring to work in the entertainment industry the opportunity to network with local professionals.
Throughout the five-hour event, over 30 organizations will have information tables listing upcoming casting calls and production gigs. This event will launch the Greater Toledo Film Commission.
“We’re one of the largest metropolitan areas that doesn’t have a film commission,” said Vincent LaMarr Smith, creator of the event. “I’ve been advocating for three to four years to get some energy going toward putting people interested in the industry together.”
Smith said the biggest benefit of attending the event is the human element of meeting face-to-face with professionals who live in the immediate area.
“I’ve been producing films for the Syfy channel, Lifetime channel and for theatrical releases for about eight years,” said Rich Iott, co-creator of the event. “One major benefit is realizing there are a lot of people in Toledo involved in the film industry in a big way. They live in and work from Toledo, but may be involved in projects in LA or Vancouver or wherever. There’s a guy here in Toledo currently producing a film with Salma Hayek, and a lot of people who may bump into this guy daily may not know he’s traveling back and forth to LA on a regular basis.”
Smith and Iott successfully hosted a similar gathering 18 months ago. The upcoming event, however, has been expanded to welcome all areas of the industry.
“We think Toledo could be successful at attracting larger-scale projects. It’s inexpensive, easy to navigate and we have just about any scenery you could ask for short of mountains. And everything’s within 20 minutes traveling distance,” Iott said. “There are also tons of great screenwriters in the Toledo area. Some of their work, which gets stumbled upon, has been used as a basis for production on the Lifetime channel. There’s a lot of underexposed talent in the city.”
“There will likely be many people at the event who are looking to produce or invest in new projects,” Smith said. “For a little guy who may be an actor or actress or director, you’re going to be able to mingle with these people and possibly launch your career.”
Recent success stories of Toledoans in the film industry include Glass City Films, which just acquired international distribution for an upcoming film, and Charissa Gracyk and Gillian Perdeau, cousins living in the LA area who are currently shooting “Holy Toledo,” a film about Prohibition-era Toledo.
Casting for modeling and acting jobs will also take place at the event, so headshots and résumés are recommended.
The Mad Ave. Collective is located at 1600 Madison Ave. The event will take place on the second floor beginning at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www.madisonave collective.com or contact Smith at (567) 868-2994.
MaryJoanna Grisso’s mother, a music teacher, often played music from “West Side Story” when Grisso was a child, which exposed her to the songs she is performing today as Maria.
“I grew up loving this musical,” Grisso said. “It was something that I always wanted to be in. It’s such a classical piece of theater and it’s such an incredible story, an incredible message and a lot of people can relate to it.”
Locals can catch her performance when “West Side Story” dances into the Stranahan Theater on May 1. The show will be in town for one weekend only, showing at 8 p.m. May 1; 8 p.m. May 2; 2 and 8 p.m. May 3; and 2 and 7 p.m. May 4. The show runs for two hours and 30 minutes with a 20-minute intermission. Tickets can be purchased online at theaterleague.com.
Grisso, who thinks the show is one of the best of Broadway, said the production is timeless.
“It’s such a relatable story; it’s the Romeo and Juliet story,” Grisso said. “So many people deal with that in their lives, and racism and bigotry all still exist. … I think that’s why it’s still relevant.”
A number of things attracted Grisso to the role of Maria, but she mostly admires the growth of her character throughout the show.
“She is a very inspiring character to me,” Grisso said. “She grows so much in the show. You see her in the beginning of the show and she’s a young girl and by the end of the show, which is only a matter of two days, she’s forced to grow up very quickly with the things that she’s dealing with. … For me to do it every day, it’s like I’m learning from this character, which is really spectacular.”
This is Grisso’s second season playing Maria and she said she never gets sick of the character. The most challenging part was the role’s Spanish lines, which Grisso began being coached for as soon as she got the part.
“There’s a little addition of Spanish in this edition, which is great. It adds so much authenticity to these characters,” Grisso said. “So that was one of the things I worked on.”
For more information, visit the website theaterleague.com.
Not many times do you get to meet a Chief Operating Officer of a chain of restaurants. Not very often does a COO fly to Toledo, Ohio, to serve ice cream to a school full of kids.
This is what 9-year-old Myles Eckert and his story can do.
No one was suppose to know. The media wasn’t invited. Friendly’s Ice Cream COO Steve Weigel wanted it that way. What he was doing with a full-size trailer full of ice cream wasn’t about publicity; it was about paying it forward — a man so moved by Myles’ story, that he showed it last month at his sales conference for all his franchise owners and vowed to do more things like Myles did by paying it forward everyday.
Myles’ simple act of kindness made the COO of Friendly’s change his philosophy and the way they want to do business.
I had known about this secret ice cream party for over a month, since the first call was made. I knew it was not going to be your typical dessert soiree with a man scooping vanilla frozen goodness out of a five-gallon plastic container.
When Friendly’s contacted the Eckert family, they told them they wanted to throw an ice cream party in Myles’ honor. Once again this young Waterville boy decided he wanted to pay it forward, so he suggested having it at a school not his own. A couple of phone calls later and the Eckerts found a perfect match in a school worthy of such an event.
“TPS Proud” Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School is different. They have a unique mix of students. I was invited to be a part of this secret event because I could relate with 30 percent of the students who attend. You see, almost one-third of the students are special needs, with a majority as beautifully different as my son, blessed with autism.
I watched class after class file in and experience this amazing frozen dairy product. I witnessed student after student smiling from ear-to-ear knowing they were part of a special moment, some wanting Myles’ autograph or a picture. Every student knew the story. They knew about his dad’s sacrifice, why Myles was being honored, why Friendly’s was there. I experienced firsthand the cosmic energy of TPS Superintendent Romules Durant as he commanded a packed lunchroom and connected with every student. I saw a boy walk up and pull a folded-up dollar bill out of his pocket and hand it to Myles. It looked like the boy had had that dollar bill for years and he gave it away in a second. He wanted Myles to have it.
That was the moment I knew. The feels were winning this fine afternoon in South Toledo.
When a child with autism connects, is touched and moved by the story of this 9 year-old boy’s $20 gift, it proves autistic children can understand emotion and relate to things that are not black and white. I felt firsthand the power of what Myles did and continues to do. I had conversations with children like my son who were moved by Myles.
All this young man did this afternoon was throw an ice cream party for a school he doesn’t attend, for children he had never met, inspire a COO of Friendly’s to hop on a plane and bring a trailer-truck full of ice cream, allow his story to act as a learning lesson for special needs children who were rewarded with the nation’s best frozen treat — sounds so simple right?
This boy and his family have an amazing ability to make a grown-ass man cry on demand. It should be a bullet-point on his résumé.
I was “Myles’d” today, my heart changed forever by something I got to experience, with conversations I never thought I would have.
To Myles: You may not realize what you gave me, but I’ll do my best to pay it forward. Thank you for your gift today.
Jeremy Baumhower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jeremytheproduc.
Lucky’s Market, a national chain of grocery stores, is considering opening a store in Toledo, Toledo Free Press has learned.
The Erie Street Market in Downtown Toledo is one location the Boulder, Colo.-based chain has visited.
“As Lucky’s Market expands across the mid-west, we are looking at many different locations. The city of Toledo, OH is a priority on our radar but we are still considering this specific site,” Lucky’s Market Marketing Project Manager Ally Conis wrote in an email to Toledo Free Press.
Representatives of the company visited Toledo last month and toured Erie Street Market with members of the Toledo Warehouse District Association and members of the City of Toledo’s economic and business development team.
“They loved it. Loved it,” Warehouse District Association member Richard Rideout said, who said the chain is also considering a few other sites in Toledo.
City of Toledo Public Information Officer Lisa Ward said the city has had “initial conversations” with Lucky’s Market.
“It’s something that’s a work in progress. We’re not in active conversation, but we’d love to explore it with them because we think it would be a good fit,” Ward said. “One of the key things missing from Downtown is a grocery store.”
Mayor D. Michael Collins recently drafted a letter to Lucky’s owner Rick Lewellyn, urging him to consider Erie Street Market, Ward said.
“The site has a longstanding history and is poised for redevelopment success. Reconstruction of I-75′s downtown exits will place even more emphasis on the market site,” the letter states. “The past decade has seen a transformation of Downtown Toledo, underscored by a rapidly increasing residential population and businesses moving in to support those citizens. … I hope to welcome you and members of the Lucky’s Market team to Toledo again to discuss a mutually beneficial partnership.”
The Warehouse District Association has been working for at least four years to identify a grocery store interested in coming to Downtown Toledo, Rideout said. Lucky’s Market was brought to their attention last fall by Paul Syring, the city’s deputy mayor of external affairs and economic development under former Mayor Mike Bell, he said.
Lucky’s Market is a full-service grocery store offering a mix of mainstream, natural, organic and locally grown foods.
The company currently has seven locations in five states, including Ohio. A Columbus location opened in October. An Ann Arbor location is coming soon, according to its website.
Erie Street Market is owned by the City of Toledo. Libbey Glass Outlet is the only remaining tenant and the Toledo Farmers’ Market is held there every Saturday.
Is anybody else a little burnt out over coverage of the NFL Draft?
The National Football League, not content with the ownership of the sports calendar it already holds from October to February, pushed back the NFL Amateur Draft into early May. The idea, of course, is to keep the conversation about the draft going. The more people talk, the more the players’ “draft stock” moves. If it starts to move, then that becomes a story. Are teams looking to move up? Move up for whom? The entire conversation becomes diabolically meta. You’d think Abed from the TV series “Community” were narrating the whole thing.
Consider this: the NFL has released next year’s schedule before this year’s draft. People are going through the Lions schedule and checking off wins and losses when they don’t even know who’s going to be on the team when the season starts. With all of the talk of the Lions looking to move up, they might have to lose some major pieces to get there. Are you comfortable assuming a certain number of wins if major names are on the chopping block? You laugh: I’ve seen rumors that Ndamukong Suh might be available if the return is right.
Oh man, I’m contributing to it, aren’t I?
See, a couple of months ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban threw a little shade at the NFL, saying it was getting to be too big. And sure, Cuban has a vested interest in seeing the league get taken down a couple of notches: money that isn’t spent on NFL merch can be easily spent on NBA gear after all. But when he said that, I think a lot of people sort of nodded in slight agreement. It started when they put in an extra week ahead of the Super Bowl, continued with nonstop coverage of the combine (always a bizarre thing to watch — it’s like an interactive meat market), and now the delay of the Draft, done only to keep the league in the conversation while the NBA and NHL are in the midsts of their playoffs.
Don’t get me wrong: in terms of sports in America, the NFL is still king. But this isn’t a monarchy, and there’s always room to grow. That’s why they’re willing to slap their name on a Hollywood movie about the draft, conveniently released a month beforehand. That’s why the schedule reveal gets a two-hour broadcast on cable television. And that’s why thy want the league to continue to be on the lips of every sports broadcaster in the country.
The problem, for me, is that I’ve had plenty. Earlier this week, Merril Hoge of ESPN talked up Buffalo standout Khalil Mack as the best defensive player in this year’s draft. Pretty cool for MAC fans; we could have back-to-back MAC picks for the first time ever. But he did so at the expense of Jadeveon Clowney (you know, the guy who smashed his way into your heart against Michigan two season ago), saying that while Clowney is an athlete, Mack is the better football player. Yeah, if you’re confused, I understand. I’m supposing it’s the difference between that boil-in-bag rice and regular rice. The regular rice can be just as good, but you have to tend to it some.
That kind of comment, though, has implications that make me hate broadcasting forever: now it becomes about Mack versus Clowney, and what that means for the teams looking for the help on defense. Will they suddenly pass on him now? Nope. If it’s one thing I’m always assured of, it’s that the national media has no idea what it’s doing at the draft, and that includes the NFL itself. Remember when Brady Quinn was considered an elite prospect, and was invited to the green room at Radio City Music Hall? The Browns skipped over him with the third pick, traded up to get him at 22, and they still overpaid.
I’ve seen the game tape from these prospects’ pro days a million times already. The topics are getting stale. If the NFL has accomplished one thing with this delay, it’s to burn people out on an oversaturated product already. We’re burnt out, guys, give us a break. Let us get out to the ball game a couple of times, and we’ll get back to you.
“Shaggy” Matt Culbreath is sports director at 1370-WSPD.