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There was a press conference over at the Steelers executive offices on the south side of Pittsburgh. One of the issues that puzzle me is that the Steelers or any other franchise would have the audacity to hold a mock draft, smock draft, hock draft or any other draft in light of the fact that the players are not working out in preparation for the 2011 season.

What is a “mock” draft anyway? Is this exercise in futility supposed to provide valuable insight to Joe Q. Public regarding what players might be selected in the early rounds of the NFL draft? Don’t those of you that possess a minute amount of football intellect realize that this “going through the motions” is a cockamamie crock of you know what?


Let’s get real here, pals. A product, is a product, is a product. If you or I go grocery shopping and decide that we want a can of chicken and dumpling soup, we expect a can of chicken and dumpling soup, not “mock” container of chicken and dumpling soup. When we return the bogus item to the store the customer service person promptly informs us that; “oh, the manufacturer only has “mock” chicken and dumpling soup available during the summer months because sales of the product are down during those months but as soon as fall season kicks in, we will again stock our shelves with “real” chicken and dumpling soup.” Huh? What? Let’s take it a tad farther roosters and hens. Would you want a “mock” pair of shoes to sport with a “mock” overcoat during one of the treacherous winters that Pittsburgh is famous for? Or a “mock” flu shot or a “mock” antibiotic?

The NFL has made a mockery of the fans and media alike. To insure that their product remains visible and imbedded in the consciousness of American and global fanatics, the powers-that-be are burying the heads of the faithful in the sand, forcing them to believe that all is well in Mudville and indeed the owners and the players have not really struck out. No, not really, see both sides have struck out swinging but the catcher dropped the ball and now has to throw the ball down to first base to record a put out of the two bumbling and stumbling sides, or so they would have the unsuspecting public to think.

This lockout, strike or however you wish to define it is a cold, callous and calculating strategy to make sure that the addiction to their product will remain intact. The NFL is playing all of the major sports networks with breaking news updates every time one of the “principals” of the ex-players union and the NFL passes gas or mows their lawns. Why isn’t anyone negotiating with the public to see what they want?

If the NFL and the players and their representatives cared about any of the issues that concerned the fans, this work stoppage would never have happened in the first place.

Fans of all races, ages and genders brave the stifling and flesh curdling heat at Latrobe, PA just to see their heroes going through the motions. They also brave the teeth chattering, arctic like conditions in order to cheer on their team through the last month of the season.

What about the spike in ER visits immediately or days after a Steelers home game in December as a result of colds and other related ailments that physicians have to treat.

How about companies and corporations being shorthanded as a result of those unplanned absences? When these folks make less money as a result of less hours or days at work then the economy takes a hit as well. People that make less money tend to spend less patronizing, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

God bless Latrobe. It will take a minor miracle for that small rural cul-de-sac to have a merry Christmas if it does not have a merry July. If for some reason the Steelers training camp is abbreviated or not held at St. Vincent’s College, a lot of work study money will not be made. This is money that students, cooks, drivers, maids, and garbage men have more than likely already spent not really believing that a work stoppage would occur. They failed to understand that the NFL and the current players already have money in escrow. They have (or at least most of them do) have a small nest egg to fall back on.

The great American composer Aaron Copeland wrote a timeless piece; ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ from the Red Pony suite. There should be a collective bargaining agreement classical music suite titled: ‘Fanfare for the Common Fan’ because there is a lot of tap dancing and pirouetting going on by players, agents, owners, the league. There might even be some break dancing going on. My point is all of the involved parties seem to be dancing around the issues. The fans invited and escorted everyone involved in this current labor dispute to the “dance of prosperity” anyway. Take my advice NFL and players, no matter how pretty all of the other girls are, you should dance with the girl that “brung ya.”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

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