(April 24, 2005) — ORCHARD PARK — It was plodding along at its usual glacial pace. How slow was the first day of the NFL draft? So slow that some of us ink-stained wretches wondered which would come first — the Bills' first pick or the start of the 2005 season.
From 1943-59, the league was able to complete 30 rounds in a single day. Now, the NFL is lucky if it can get through three rounds on Day One.
Saturday's first round lasted long enough for me to paint my house, write a new book and traverse the Tour de France on my 10-speed.
Actually, it only lasted five hours, 47 minutes, but you get the picture. I felt like Rip Van Winkle.
Here's a suggestion for commissioner Paul Tagliabue: Drop the selection time for each team from 15 minutes to five in the first round, and from 10 minutes to five in the succeeding six rounds. These teams have spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours probing these players more closely than meat on the hoof. What's the delay in selecting somebody? Speed it up. Make it more interesting. Puhlease!
Fortunately, the Bills provided a little comic relief during this endless Saturday. At 10 minutes past 4 — the exact time the Dallas Cowboys used the pick they acquired from the Bills last year — Ralph Wilson, Tom Donahoe, Tom Modrak, Mike Mularkey and J.P. Losman paraded to the podium.
The rumors had been circulating that running back Travis Henry was going to be traded to Philadelphia, Arizona or Tampa Bay. We assumed that's what the news conference was going to be about.
We should have known better. This was, after all, Draft Day — a day when Donahoe, the Bills general manager, likes to spring surprises. There wasn't a blockbuster announcement along the lines of the Willis McGahee pick or the trade for Drew Bledsoe. Just a little attempt at humor.
Wilson stepped up and said: "It's a pleasure for me to announce the Buffalo Bills first-round draft choice. We are happy to introduce J.P. Losman."
After some comments from the five men, Losman, Wilson and Mularkey posed together as the quarterback held up his No. 7 Bills jersey. Once again, we were reminded that they regard Losman as this year's first-round pick since they traded their 2005 first-round slot last year in order to take the quarterback. We get it already, guys. We get it.
Not having a first-rounder made this year's first day about as exciting for Bills fans as watching paint dry.
The trade rumors regarding Arizona that would have enabled the Bills to move up 11 slots, from 55th to 44th overall, never materialized. So, it wasn't until eight hours, 16 minutes into sport's most over-hyped event that Buffalo actually made a choice.
The Bills used it on wide receiver Roscoe Parrish, a speedy, smurf-like 5-foot-9, 168-pounder from the University of Miami who caught eight touchdown passes and returned two punts for scores last season. The drafting of Parrish probably spells the end of Josh Reed's brief career in Buffalo.
The selection caught many of us by surprise because the Bills had more pressing needs at offensive line, defensive line, cornerback and tight end.
But taking Parrish wasn't the biggest surprise of this endless day. More stunning was the inactivity of Donahoe and assistant GM Modrak. The Bills' wheelers and dealers weren't able to make any bold moves to get into the first round. They stayed put at 55th. The waiting game tested their patience, too.
"It did take a while," Modrak said. "I've never been in that situation before."