1981 NFL Draft Live Blog

May 1, 2012 – 10:54 pm by Hickey

You may have enjoyed our recent live blogs of the 2012 NFL Draft. I guess they were pretty good. But they were nowhere near as awesome as our 1981 NFL Draft Live Blog would have been.

Granted, the ’81 Draft Live Blog would probably consist of us writing comments down on a piece of paper in real time and then faxing the whole thing to you. To which you would say, “Damn, this is amazing technology!”

Anyway, the first round of the 1981 Draft is available through the glory of YouTube, and I recently found it while screwing around on the internet. The rest of the world must now share in that glory, which will come with my full annotations.


0:00-0:25 — Uh, guys, we’re on the air. Perhaps someone should turn on the commissioner’s microphone. No, really. The first 25 seconds of the NFL Draft are spent trying to turn Pete Rozelle’s mic on.

1:00 — Apparently this one was as much of a no-brainer as Andrew Luck. The ESPN guys have barely let us know we’re watching the NFL Draft before the Saints take running back George Rogers out of South Carolina, who actually had his number retired during halftime of his final college game. That’s pretty baller.

 1:28 — Rogers making his way towards the podium as the Giants select Lawrence Taylor. Chris Berman’s head would explode if he wasn’t allowed to finish talking about Rogers before they got around to the second pick.

1:50 — Rogers steps up to the dais and shakes Rozelle’s hand. Apparently you didn’t hug the commish for 40 seconds back in those days.

2:02-2:36 — George Rogers is gonna talk to you while awkwardly holding this Saints helmet someone shoved into his hand.

3:15 — It is revealed Rozelle got stuck on the elevator on his way to this extremely cramped ballroom for the draft.

3:50 — Jets fans boo their pick, running back Freeman McNeil. As usual, it is an uninformed douche move by Jets fans — McNeil would go on to be the team’s all-time leading rusher until Curtis Martin broke the record. Good to see nothing ever changes.

4:15 — These posters hanging from the balcony are awesome. I wish I had one.

4:50 — Let’s send it upstairs to Token Female Sports Reporter of 1981 and give her the demeaning assignment of interviewing this white guy with an Afro in a leisure suit. He’s just a fan of the draft, no one who actually matters. Women cannot yet be trusted talking to those people.

5:45 — Rozelle takes a drag from a cigarette!

5:50-6:50 — Boring analysis. They are using stats and no one is shouting.

6:54 — It’s Chris Berman! Live! From a restaurant!

6:56 — Chris, you’re on the air.

6:57-7:35 — Whoa, Chris Berman was skinny. He must have gone back to this restaurant for like every sporting event during the next 30 years.

8:07 — My God, Sam Rosen! When he was young! With a mustache! (And by young I mean under 80 years old and not doing a broadcast for the Fox Z-team).

8:45 — Sam asks the Giants punter why the Giants didn’t take an offensive player over Lawrence Taylor. I think you will find out shortly, Sam.

9:39 — The punter confirms that he will not be holding out. Which is probably a good idea for a punter.


0:25 — Since no one cares about the Seattle Seahawks, we’re not gonna bother having the commish announce their pick. Congrats, Kenny Easley of UCLA. I had never heard of Easley, who retired after the ’87 season because of a kidney problem. He made the Pro Bowl five of his seven seasons and was also taken by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Draft. Also baller.

1:03 — We’re going to Greg Gumbel.

1:04 — Nope, we’re going to a commercial.

1:14 — We’re back at the Sheraton Ballroom after our commercial for Hilton.

1:34 — How do you know it’s the ’80s? Someone showed up in an Islanders jersey.

1:40 — The very hairless-in-modern-times Hub Arkush has voluminous locks and a porn ‘stache!

2:15 — The St. Louis Cardinals are running out of time to pick! Are they going to Screw this up somehow?

2:35 — The Cardinals take E.J. Junior ahead of Ronnie Lott. Guess that’s why they’re in Arizona now.

3:00 — The first QB selected in the draft comes sixth overall in the form of Cal’s Rich Campbell, who goes to the Packers.

3:32 — Wait a second…according to this graphic, the Packers picked a quarterback with six touchdowns and four interceptions his senior year!

3:52 — “I guess you can’t knock the Packers for picking Campbell, because they have two quarterbacks in their 30s.” Campbell would go on to career totals of three touchdowns and nine interceptions with a QB Rating of 38.8. God, I miss the ’80s.

5:00 — Rozelle reviews a trade that he just announced for the benefit of all you guys in the media writing this down with your pens. I don’t want you getting confused.

5:44 — Sam Rosen and Hub Arkush are either talking about the trade or how much tail they are gonna get after the draft.

6:55 — Ha-ha. The Packers could have had Ronnie Lott. Instead the 49ers, and destiny, await.

7:15 — That TV is awesome.

7:46 — Dr. Z holds up some weird picture of a fedora-clad man…presumably an ad on the back of something he is reading.

8:45 — Damn, they don’t wait long to have the commissioner’s lackey start announcing picks. He even says “Cincinnatuh.” Wild guess: picking a football player from Kansas in the Top 10 isn’t going to work out.

9:20 — It’s Greg Gumbel! Trying to explain to us why the Bengals still suck despite having several years of high draft picks. They should have brought him back for an exclusive rebroadcast for the entirety of the ’90s.


0:43 — Howard Cosell comes out guns blazing talking about how the Draft is the “most overrated, over-propagandized event in American sports.” Signing Day must have him spinning in his grave.

2:00 — Rozelle is laughing as he watches Cosell go off on the Draft.

2:10 — Cosell: “I suggest all teams should get to the nub of the matter. They shouldn’t draft players, they should draft Al Davis.” Remember, in 1981 that probably seemed like the most genius statement ever.

3:10 — What the f*ck?!?!?!?! In 1981 Canadian Football League teams were able to offer more money to players than NFL teams?!?!?!

4:12 — Bob Ley!

4:22 — My God. The guy in the studio with Bob Ley looks like he drives around school zones in a van handing out candy.

4:46 — Poor Token Female Sports Reporter of 1981 is forced to demean herself again with some fan who thinks he is a draft expert. It’s like he’s the 1981 version of a blogger or something.

5:23 — Fans are baffled by Denver’s selection of USC defensive back Dennis Smith at No. 15. He only went on to reach six Pro Bowls. Also, Dennis Smith and Ronnie Lott in the same college defensive backfield must have been ridiculous.

6:41 — Hank Stram showed up dressed as Columbo.

6:53 — Let’s get a super zoom-in of Hank’s horrible hairpiece.


9:10 — Sal Not-Palantonio thinks Notre Dame center John Scully will go to the Vikings at No. 18. He ends up going to the Falcons at 109. Nice analysis.


1:30 — The Vikings trade their first-round pick to Baltimore. The Colts, that is.

2:10-2:30 — Pete is completely confused by this trade. And so am I.

4:03 — Sam Rosen conducts an interview with Mrs. Rozelle. As you can see, she doesn’t have a first name.

5:02-5:08 — Technical difficulties.

5:23 — Guy who looks like he hands candy out of his windowless van is Howard Balzer of The Sporting News.

6:44 — Richard Karn was an ESPN reporter?!?

6:48 — Never mind, that’s Ron Barr. He’s awesome too, because he was in NHL ’94 as the fake studio host. He just shaved the beard to make it big in video games.

7:33 — You can hear some woman incredulously asking “What?!?” when Buffalo trades picks with Oakland.

7:57 — “Curtis Marsh, tackle, Washington.” Someone in audience: “Who?!” Marsh would go on to have his foot amputated when his career was over due to football-related injuries. Damn.

8:30 — Are people really incredulous that the Falcons took Bobby Butler from Florida State, or are they just being smartasses at this point?

9:12 — No! It ends right as Paul Maguire is about to talk! I have been deprived of drunken and hilarious insight. I feel like going through this whole thing was a sham now.

So there you go folks, the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft. Despite ending on a sour note, overall it is something I strongly advise you to experience for yourself.

All-in-all, 12 Pro Bowlers were taken in the first round, as well as two Hall of Famers: Lawrence Taylor and Ronnie Lott. Another, Keith Van Horne, probably should have been a Pro Bowler, although I am personally biased in favor of every ’85 Bear.

As is turned out, the second round ended up producing more Canton-bound players: Mike Singletary, Rickey Jackson and Howie Long. There were also 11 Pro Bowlers. Not a bad haul.

The ninth round is arguably the greatest in the history of names. The Jets took defensive back Admiral Dewey Larry out of UNLV (no, seriously) and the Bengals picked running back Samoa Samoa from Washington State.

Also taken that year?

Current NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, 265th overall by the Giants.

As you can see from the videos, the draft he was taken in is a far different beast than it is today.

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  1. 4 Responses to “1981 NFL Draft Live Blog”

  2. Ha! Good stuff Hickey

    By KJ on May 2, 2012

  3. I saw this exact article on SBNation.com that’s strange.

    By Bob on May 2, 2012

  4. If sumbuddy axes me, dat was da mos instaresting post u eva did – fasereeus fareel.

    Please be doing more retro draft commentary. Its somewhere between mst3k, ed sullivan and mutual of omaha wild kingdom: edutainment at its hairy beast!

    By 1960sBaby on May 2, 2012

  5. Bob, you probably saw it at Yardbarker.com. We’re an affiliate of Yardbarker-Fox Sports-MSN so it is quite common to see some of our posts on other sites. Rest assured this is an original piece by Hickey that was posted here first… one of our affiliate sites just ran it as well.

    By KJ on May 3, 2012

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