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Draft Choices

The night before the NFL draft Mary Kay and I were channel-surfing and saw that “Draft Day,” starring Kevin Costner, was on. I’ve seen this movie over a dozen times but MK had never seen it. What was key about this movie was that it was on the night before the real NFL draft was held.

I thought about the movie, the real draft and what we all go through trying to hire techs. My first thought was about all the challenges we have vs. what NFL teams have – but realized we are all in the same situation (just with a lot less money involved!).

Being a high draft pick doesn’t mean you are going to be an NFL star. The two that come to my mind are Ryan Leaf and Art Schlichter. Leaf is labeled as the biggest bust in NFL draft history – drafted #2 immediately after Peyton Manning in 1998. Schlichter drafted #4, just ahead of #5 Jim McMahon and #10 Marcus Allen in 1982.

Leaf played a few seasons and threw for 14 touchdowns. Wait – he also threw for 36 interceptions. Total yards – 3,666 – just a few behind Manning who threw for 71,940 yards. Leaf had drug issues—serious ones that landed him in jail. There is an ESPN E-60 story that shares his story.

Schlichter didn’t perform nearly as well as Leaf. He only threw for 1,006 yards, three of which were for touchdowns. He had 3 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He, too, ended up in jail – not for drug issues but for serious gambling issues, and eventually drug issues, that started when he was at THE Ohio State University.

How did the guys he beat out do? McMahon lead the ’85 Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl victory. Marcus Allen? 123 touchdowns and 12,243 total yards rushing.

Doesn’t this remind you of the challenges we face when hiring someone? Consider the fact that NFL teams spend months of research before picking someone from the draft. And they should!  Last year’s #1 pick made $30,427,374 while the #12 pick only made $13,868,013. Eleven positions and nearly $17 million more money.

Regardless of all the research the NFL teams do, the experts often get it wrong. Here are some names you will be familiar with, regardless of your age, and where they were drafted:

  • Joe Theismann – pick #99;
  • Bart Starr – pick #199 (you knew I’d get a Packer in here, didn’t you?);
  • Roger Staubach – pick #129;
  • Tom Brady – pick #199; and
  • Bo Jackson – pick #183.

Makes me feel better – doesn’t it you?

We interview someone, look at their resume, spend hours interviewing them and end up hiring them. I’ve found I often hired poorly. I learned, however, not to take it personally. Sometimes we find great employees and sometimes we find turkeys. Often I’m surprised, but always motivated, by the fact that the next great employee is just around the corner. We just need to find that technician.

The good news – we aren’t going to make a $30 million error. We’ll leave that for those NFL guys.

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