The draft has changed dramatically in 44 years

The NFL has skyrocketed in revenue and popularity since the AFL-NFL merger took effect in 1970.  The game has changed in many ways, and the draft has changed even more dramatically than the game.

The first player taken in the modern, post-merger NFL era was Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw.  Earlier today, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello posted on Twitter a photo of Bradshaw with his father and Steelers coach Chuck Noll from 1970.

But that photo wasn’t taken at the draft, or even on draft day.  On draft day, Bradshaw was in Louisiana, getting ready to go fishing.

Bradshaw, who told the whole story last week in a visit to PFT Live, didn’t know the Steelers were even interested in him.  After the Steelers won a coin toss with the Bears for the first overall pick, the Bears were trying to pull off a trade with the Steelers to get the pick, but the Steelers held firm, selecting Bradshaw.

Coupled with defensive tackle Joe Greene, the fourth overall pick in 1969 (after O.J. Simpson, George Kunz, and Leroy Keyes), the Steelers began to lay the foundation for a run of greatness that, in this age of free agency and the salary cap, likely will never be duplicated.  Bradshaw reflected on all of it, and the entire interview appears below.

Even the part about how we posted that a motorist’s death in 2007 on the Terry Bradshaw Passway in Shreveport had morphed into a rumor that Bradshaw had passed away.

14 responses to “The draft has changed dramatically in 44 years

  1. I have to seriously disagree. I think the game is open for a team to set up an uber-form of domination and when some team finally figures out how to stay logical throughout the short-term and up through the long-term then I think it isn’t very difficult at all to set up a dynasty of the likes that have never seen before. You just have to be able to have the vision and the logic to see the path to get there and we just don’t have ONE team in the league that does a really good job at managing everything that they are responsible for.

    Eventually somebody is going to get a really brilliant GM and then it’s going to be a long period of misery for everybody else that couldn’t figure out how to play this game first.

  2. Emery in Chicago is changing the way to run a football franchise. Moves being made where you solidify a side of the ball with older and younger players. Rotate the older out (peppers urlacher) ignoring the meatheads call for some ridiculous loyalty. Then picking FA signing that appear to be long term contracts (but in reality short term front-loads with options to exit early). This combo attack on personnel is the only way to build franchise -like teams where the faces may change but the team stays competitive.

    Now queue the Vikings and Green Bay jokers… (Even though I never said the bears were a dynasty), just the methodology Emery is employing is what, IMO is the way to go about building a dynasty will look like in the Palpatine… Er um.. Goodell empire.

  3. Both the draft and the availability of “greenies” and horse steroids have changed greatly since the 1970s. Lament, O Steelers!

  4. I miss the weekend draft. It was alot more enjoyable and bigger “event” when it was held over a two-day weekend.

    Now– it’s just another thing to watch during the week night… Then go to bed for work the next day.

    It’s been wrecked.

  5. Well I know I for one would love to hear what exatly this logical and non-difficult path to uber domination you’ve figured out, that has thus far avoided every front office person in the league, is.

  6. Honestly, one of the reasons the NFL draft became what it is today is the work of the late Joel Buschbaum. His “Scout’s Notebook” publication was the best information anyone could get their hands on. Back in the early 1980s, there really wasn’t much else.

    How good was Buschbaum? Bill Belichick actually publicly admitted to calling Buschbaum and running his draft board by Joel to see what his take was, and would even make changes based on JB’s assessments. Buschbaum was offered jobs by multiple NFL teams several times, and each time turned down a job that would have paid him more money.

  7. The old format was better. Wake up early and camp out in front of the tv and watch college highlights all day. Now it’s overblown and drawn out.

  8. The fastest way to kill a dynasty in a salary-cap era is by spending a third of the payroll on a quarterback. That’ll do it almost instantly.
    The most money Bradshaw was ever paid for a single season was $200,000, which was a lot of money back in the day, but far from breaking the bank. Today, some QBs, even average QBs, are being paid a million dollars per game.
    The Patriots have avoided a total collapse mostly because they have a highly-productive QB willing to play for less than his market value.
    To the Pittsburgh sports media: restructuring a contract is not the same as taking a pay cut. Colin Dunlap of 93.7 The Fan needs to be made aware of this. Someone should tell him.

  9. The draft was much more important before free agency and the salary cap. Teams could stockpile players in ways unheard of today. Once you had a guy, you had him for life or until you traded him. Teams like the Steelers, Raiders, Giants and Cowboys would spend twice as much as the average team on players.

    I like it better now. Deep pockets don’t guarantee wins. Ask Dan Snyder.

  10. Yeah, the NFL changed just enough with Free Agency and the salary cap to allow a franchise like the Saints to win the Big One….Who Dat

  11. After the first round, it is boring and not worth watching. Even the first round moves far too slow. Too much BS.

  12. What are the odds that the team picking 1st in the post-merger draft would go on to be the most succesful team in NFL history.

  13. Yeah, things have changed dramatically. But the only change that sticks in my craw is the change from April to May. It’s totally messed with my off season.

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