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How To Duff The NFL Draft, With Tyler Dunne

An array of football helmets set up in anticipation of the NFL Draft.
Photo by Duane Prokop/Getty Images

The NFL: It’s pretty dumb! This is not necessarily a criticism, or anyway not any more of a criticism than, say, pointing out that ducks have webbed feet. A certain kind of dedicated and determined dumbness is native to the league, and the way its off-field business unfolds from one moment to the next—the oafish power struggles and gratuitous secrecies and long-simmering feuds between dim executive svengali types and the overcaffeinated hardos on the coaching staff—perfectly reflects the values of the alpha dunces who make up the NFL’s power class. None of this stuff ever stops, by definition, but it is all at its loudest and most ridiculous and delightful around the NFL Draft. This is the season of ham-brained subterfuge and anonymous scout shit-talk and curdled hunchery, a truly depraved orgy of self-induced executive mania and deranged five-year plans; this year, the league is also bringing back the old goofy pageantry that was missing from last year’s oddly endearing virtual draft, which should make the experience that begins tonight completely and perfectly NFL.

It is all overwhelming, always. This is why we invited ace NFL reporter Tyler Dunne of the Go Long With Tyler Dunne newsletter to help us understand the secret dumb-guy beeves and institutional stubbornnesses and raw ego-driven delusion that will shape not just this already plague-warped draft but the next NFL season.

And to his credit, Tyler did help us make some sense of it, to the extent that such a thing can really even be done. So much of what is actual and actionable intelligence about how the NFL works is also more or less meticulously sourced gossip. It is a strange thing to be smart about how the NFL’s dumbness works, but I believe that Tyler made us both a little bit more astute on that front, and shared some interesting insights into Sammy Watkins’s unique personal cosmology as well.

And then there was the regularly scheduled dumb stuff, which was NFL adjacent insofar as it involved Brett Favre endorsing a bacon-cooking gadget you can get in the Easily Breakable Doodads aisle at Walgreens but mostly involved the usual Funbag perversities. This is how I wound up appreciating the late character actor J.T. Walsh, and Drew heatedly declined to say even one nice thing about the state of Pennsylvania, and Tyler and Drew discussed best practices on nose hair extraction. The natural waterslides at Pennsylvania’s Ohiopyle State Park came up, as did Brendan Fraser. An entirely different and less feud-driven flavor of dumb, in other words, but still very much in the spirit of the season.

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