Geno Smith draft ‘saga’ not a ‘saga’ at all

Opinion

Geno Smith of the West Virginia Mountaineers stands on stage prior to the start of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Geno Smith of the West Virginia Mountaineers stands on stage prior to the start of the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

His name wasn’t called. It happened last night. It’s happened in countless drafts.

The NFL Draft’s first round, more like the NFL’s ‘Academy Awards,’ ended without Geno Smith making the official handshake with league commissioner Roger Goodell.

He didn’t refuse to play for a team once drafted, a la John Elway or Eli Manning — Smith just wasn’t drafted.

He thought about returning home for the draft’s second round, rather than staying in New York — a decision which was unnecessarily characterized by some as Smith confirming to critics that he “can’t show grit and resolve under pressure.”

Because when his team’s down and the game’s on the line, coaches will be thinking about that time Smith went home for the draft’s second round.

It’s a stretch.

Judge Smith for his play

Thankfully, voices like ESPN analyst  Bill Polian add perspective:

“What does sitting in a green room have to do with playing quarterback in the National Football League?” Polian asked on ESPN Radio’s ‘Mike & Mike’ program Friday.

We’re still wondering, Bill.

Friday, Smith changed his tune, opting to remain in New York for the second r0und. His name will be called and it will be called soon, Friday night.

NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal offered this up on Twitter concerning Smith’s ‘travel plans':

Agreed.

There was only one quarterback selected on Thursday — E.J. Manuel at No. 16 to Buffalo.

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Smith’s snub came as a surprise to several NFL analysts and prognosticators. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had Smith going to Cleveland at No. 11; CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora had Smith going to Oakland at No. 3; ESPN’s Todd McShay had Smith as a projected No. 6 pick to Cleveland.

Thursday’s draft broadcasts were filled with images of a seemingly dejected Smith — his head down.

A human being.

Advice from the greats

Sometimes, players don’t attend the star-studded event in New York City, preferring to stay at home with friends and family. Sometimes, players opt to be elsewhere — like Cleveland Browns All-Pro Joe Thomas, who was fishing on Lake Michigan while his name was called in 2007.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can relate, to a degree. The Super Bowl champ and 2011 MVP fell to the Packers at No. 24 back in 2005. Rodgers tweeted his support to Smith late Thursday:

Rodgers knows. He waited for three seasons behind a wavering Brett Favre — someone who wasn’t interested in taking the young first round pick under his wing.  But when he got his chance, he exploded.

Green Bay won a Super Bowl two years later.

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Seattle’s Russell Wilson was drafted in the third round of last year’s draft. He earned the starting nod in training camp and guided the Seahawks within two points of a NFC Championship Game birth.

Geno will get his opportunity — and what he does with it is what he should be judged for.

Nothing more.

Follow theGrio’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj