Legendary NFL draftnik steeped in mystery

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by Arch Stanton, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. Arch Stanton

    Arch Stanton it was the grave marked unknown right beside

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    Legendary NFL draftnik steeped in mystery
    Dallas Morning News

    NEW YORK – Neighbors thought the little man was strange.

    They didn't know who he was or what he did for a living. They knew only that he spent most days holed up in his apartment, a small one-bedroom on the fourth floor. And that he got loads of mail. His mailbox in the building's lobby bulged with letters and magazines. Many days, stacks of envelopes were bundled with twine on the floor. The superintendent, who often signed for the packages, couldn't stand it.

    "I said no more, please no more," the super said. "Too much mail."

    But the deluge kept coming, all bound for Apartment 4L, where things went in but hardly anything went out, including the man who lived there.

    The tenant, a quiet guy who never married, left Brooklyn once, maybe twice a year. He left his building only a few hours a day. He walked his dog, visited his mother in the building next door or went to the gym.

    He always looked the same: Bed-head hair. Baggy sweatshirt or sweater. Windbreaker. Long pants, even in the sticky heat of summer. His Jack Russell terrier scampered behind him, leaving puddles.

    Neighbors said the man was likable and polite, a gentleman. Friends called him caring and honest. A real sweetheart.

    But strangers rushed past him and kids stared.

    He was so thin, he seemed to drown in his clothes. His eyes were sunken, his fingers thin as pencils. In his 40s, he looked 80.

    His name was Joel Buchsbaum. And in the confines of his apartment, he became a football savant.

    Buchsbaum could tell you anything about football, anything about players – even from 10 years ago. Heights. Forty-yard dash times. Injuries. If a guy sprained an ankle, he knew which ankle.

    About his personal life, though, he didn't say much. It seemed he loved football more than life itself.

    Obsessive and passionate about the game, yet absent-minded in life. That was Joel.

    The name on Buchsbaum's apartment buzzer was J. Buchabaum. He lived there 17 years but never bothered to correct it.

    He never managed to put enough postage on envelopes, just slapping on stamps. He was a menace on the road, driving his used Mazda sedan 20 mph in the fast lane. And his health? It was far down his list of important things.

    "He was always too busy to eat, so he never ate," said his mother, Fran Buchsbaum. "With him, it was football, football, football. He thought it was all he needed."

    Buchsbaum's fixation with work was overwhelming. He once said: "When it comes my time to go, I hope I'm 90, and I've just finished another draft. Yeah, that's the way I want to go."

    He didn't make it.

    On the morning of Dec. 29, 2002, in his nondescript building on Avenue I in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, Buchsbaum died at age 48, alone in the apartment where he lived a secluded life between peeling, cracking walls.

    He was 5-8 and less than 100 pounds when his heart gave out. He fell to his bedroom floor, and there he lay, surrounded by the world he created – a place where quirky college dropout Joel Stephen Buchsbaum became an NFL legend.

    A radio cult figure

    Officially, Buchsbaum's job was contributing editor for Pro Football Weekly. He wrote columns for the magazine and produced books about the 600 to 800 college players available for the NFL draft.

    In his yearly book, he detailed players' strengths, weaknesses and personal information. He threw out one-liners, too: "Looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane." "It's a $20 cab ride to get around him."

    Though this year's draft book has his name on it, for the first time in 25 years, next weekend's event will go on without him.

    Buchsbaum also had weekly radio shows in Houston and St. Louis. Over the airwaves, he became a cult figure. His nasal, Brooklyn monotone – not a booming broadcasting voice – was his trademark.

    Unofficially, Buchsbaum was one of the best evaluators of football talent. He called himself "a glorified information gatherer" because he consulted many sources to produce what NFL bigwigs say was the definitive draft guide. He didn't have to ask teams what they were going to do. He knew.

    His analysis was so good that NFL coaches, owners and personnel people sought his advice.

    "I tried to hire him as a scout with the [Cleveland] Browns every year," said New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "But he always said he'd rather work for all 32 teams.

    "There's a thousand people out there that write draft books, and they aren't worth the paper they're written on. But Joel? He was something special."

    '24 hours a day'

    While NFL scouts were traveling to colleges to check out players, Buchsbaum was perched in front of his TVs, studying videotapes of games and workouts. That was his advantage.

    "He knew the players better than any scout for any team," Belichick said. "Studying film is crucial, and that's why he was so good. He did it 24 hours a day."

    Buchsbaum saw tapes he wasn't supposed to. Practice sessions. Private workouts. He had connections at every NFL team.

    Belichick considered him a close friend, calling on the morning of the draft, then that night to talk about different scenarios. Buchsbaum was good at keeping secrets.

    Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was a buddy. So were New York Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi and Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo. And NFL front office people. And agents.

    "He had a network in the NFL better than I've ever heard of," said Bobby Beathard, Atlanta Falcons senior adviser and former Washington Redskins general manager.

    Accorsi said: "There weren't a lot of people who influenced all these top people in the league like Joel did."

    Part of his mystery

    Of all the people who knew Buchsbaum, most knew him only by phone.

    "It certainly was out of the ordinary," Belichick said. "It was like having an affair."

    It was part of his mystery.

    A St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist in the 1980s joked that Buchsbaum was fictional because no one had ever seen him. Was he short? Blond? Fat? Alive?

    "I was never in his presence. That puts me in the same category as 99 percent of people that knew him," said NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who hosted a St. Louis radio show with Buchsbaum in the late 1970s. "A sighting of him was like a sighting of Bigfoot.

    "A portion of our audience thought he was a put-on. His voice was almost as if you invented a sports brainiac cartoon character."

    In 1978, Buchsbaum started his radio career on St. Louis' KMOX. His name, usually pronounced Bucks-baum, was mispronounced Bush-bomb. He didn't care. He was happy to sit in his raggedy recliner and talk football to listeners many miles away. He was happy to be just a voice.

    He avoided cameras. As part of an agreement, his column in Pro Football Weekly ran without his mug shot.

    A picture would've captured this: a pale, angular face. Teeth too big for his mouth. Ears popping out. Outdated, outsized glasses with thick lenses.

    Eventually, his photo made it into newspapers, when stories came out about this new breed of person called a draftnik, someone obsessed with the NFL draft.

    Now there is Mel Kiper Jr., the ESPN personality identified by his distinct hair styling. But first there was Buchsbaum, the guy no one could identify.

    Avoided the public

    Unlike Kiper and other draftniks, Buchsbaum preferred to avoid the public. Most of his social interaction was at the gym.

    His NFL friends couldn't understand. He had many offers to go to lunch or to nearby games. But Buchsbaum declined, saying he was busy. Or his dog was sick. Or he was on a diet.

    Occasionally he went to the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium at the start of the college season. Other than that, he watched games from his apartment, a space so messy that his mother vowed never to visit. Only his editors and best friend visited regularly – a few times a year.

    "Getting into his apartment was like getting onto Gilligan's Island," one NFL executive said. "We all wondered what it was like."

    There was plenty to see beneath the dust. Every cranny was filled with magazines, newspapers and thousands of videotapes from games and workouts, each labeled. Texas A&M v. Texas 1998. Notre Dame Work Out '93.

    Rickety bookshelves threatened to crush him. Books, binders and spiral notebooks filled his closets. They hid stains on his worn-out carpet. They elbowed dust bunnies from beneath his bed. The bathtub was a book bin.

    In the clutter of his living room were his lifelines: the phone; three TVs of varying size, only one hooked up to cable; three VCRs, some so old their buttons were held on by dry, yellowing Scotch tape. He often watched and taped three games at once.

    There he worked 80 to 90 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

    "He gambled his entire well-being for the sport, and he didn't want anything in return," said Accorsi, who lives in Manhattan but met Buchsbaum only once. "His compensation was our respect. That was more important to him than any kind of money."

    Money was never a concern. Pro Football Weekly paid him well and covered his phone bills, as high as $1,500 a month. He didn't need much to live on anyway.

    In love with sports

    He was an only child who resided with his parents until he was 31. His father, who died in 1999, was first assistant corporation counsel for New York City. His mother, a buyer for a local clothing store, eventually made her son and his junk move to the building next door.

    Stanley Buchsbaum hoped his son would become a lawyer, but Joel had other ideas. He introduced his son to sports, and Joel fell in love.

    They went to Mets and Jets games. They talked about football and hockey. But they loved baseball the most. To protest the Dodgers' leaving Brooklyn in 1957, the Buchsbaums were Baltimore Orioles fans. Joel named every dog he ever had Brooks or Miss Brooks, after his favorite player, third baseman Brooks Robinson.

    He boasted about the "O's" to his friends. Back then, he was gregarious, one of the gang. Despite his insistence that he was "never any good," he played stickball in the streets until dusk, football in the schoolyards. He was pudgy but coordinated.

    "There are a lot of misconceptions about Joel: He wasn't always thin, and he wasn't spastic," said Andrew Kulak, a boyhood friend. "He was a great pitcher and a great quarterback."

    Buchsbaum once was obsessed with becoming a major league pitcher, just as he was obsessed with perfection in everything he did. In third grade, his mother said, he began memorizing box scores. As friends played Stratomatic, a baseball board game, he kept statistics.

    His love for statistics soon became his only connection to athletics. When puberty hit, he stopped playing team sports. He developed a serious case of acne and withdrew from his friends.

    One autumn, he returned to high school much thinner.

    "He was obsessed with getting into shape because he wanted to be an athlete so badly, but he obviously went too far," said Paul Helman, a longtime friend. "Looking back, maybe it was anorexia or something. He just worked out all the time."

    His mother said Buchsbaum lost weight because he developed food allergies. He went to State University of New York at Albany but came home after one semester, due in part, she said, to his eating problems.

    In 1974, after giving Brooklyn College a one-month trial, he gave up on college. He was 19 when he began thinking up his own career. One that didn't exist.

    A collector's item

    Growing up, Buchsbaum was fascinated by Pro Football Weekly's draft coverage. So he tried it himself. For hours, he sat in a local kosher pizza parlor, scribbling notes about college players.

    At age 20, he wrote his first draft report. His mother typed it and took it to the copy shop. He sent it to 120 newspapers and magazines. The next year, the Football News hired him, and his first draft analysis was published in 1975.

    He moved to Pro Football Weekly in 1978, when his early draft reports were 50 pages. His last report was nearly 200 pages.

    "This year's book is going to be a collector's item," Accorsi said. "You look at it and you think, 'Oh, Joel – I really miss him.' "

    When Buchsbaum started out, the draft was a small affair, held at a Manhattan hotel. Now it's broadcast live on ESPN from Madison Square Garden. Thousands of people attend. Millions watch.

    It was the one day of the year, guaranteed, that Buchsbaum left Brooklyn. And one day, guaranteed, that people could see the man who lived a hermit's life. It was his domain: While other reporters were sequestered in the media section, he was allowed near the team tables.

    "He had a presence at the draft," said Joel Bussert, NFL senior director of player personnel. "He had an identity there. He was an important man there. I don't think he ever realized how important he was in football."

    As the draft grew, Buchsbaum's methods stayed the same.

    He wrote his reports in notebooks with No. 2 pencils. Pro Football Weekly editors sent him a computer, but it stayed in the box for months.

    When the magazine sent him to a typing class, he resisted. Only last year did he agree to use e-mail.

    Not a jokester

    Buchsbaum had his routine.

    Every night, he visited his mother at 11:30. Every day, he went to the gym, wearing a fanny pack that held a notebook and pencils. He changed his NFL cap daily so he wouldn't show a particular allegiance.

    He worked out with his best friend, Marty Fox. Buchsbaum climbed onto a bike in front of the TVs and barely pedaled. Or he lifted the lightest plate on the weight machines. He said he didn't want to waste calories; he just wanted to keep his parts moving. As usual, he was serious.

    "You never joked around with Joel because he just wasn't that hip," Fox said. "You just had to accept him for what he was."

    Many people didn't know what to think. They wondered why he insisted on commandeering the TV sets. They didn't find out who he was until he was featured in The New York Times two weeks before his death.

    "People here loved him because he was as nice as can be, but some people thought he had AIDS or something," gym sales manager Michael Carlin said.

    Buchsbaum had health problems for years, but never complained, and few people inquired.

    Even his friends weren't sure what was wrong. Fox thought Buchsbaum had Crohn's disease, a gastrointestinal disorder. Others thought Buchsbaum was struggling with diabetes or cancer.

    The death certificate cites natural causes. His mother said he died of a heart attack.

    "It was terrible," she said. "You can't just live on lettuce."

    'He had demons'

    His NFL contacts understood his passion for the game and respected him for his hard work. Though they knew he was thin, they didn't know why.

    "He had demons inside of him," an NFL executive said. "Because he was always afraid of failure. He was scared because he said he wasn't trained for anything else."

    His mother said she tried to get him to relax, maybe have a family. Even when his father died in 1999 and friends worried about how it affected him, he kept working.

    "After his dad died, he was really down. I thought, 'God, what is this guy going to do now? This poor guy doesn't have a life,' " Beathard said. "I always hoped he'd get a job at the NFL office, so he could get out of Brooklyn and do other things. I always wondered, 'Is this what he wants?' because I really cared about him and liked what was inside of him."

    Parcells connection

    Many of Buchsbaum's contacts turned into friends, including Scott Pioli, the New England Patriots' vice president of player personnel. They talked about things other than football. Buchsbaum often chatted with Pioli's wife, Dallas, whose father is Bill Parcells, coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

    They never saw him in person, but the Piolis loved their phone friend. It was mutual.

    Months after the Piolis' wedding in 1999, Buchsbaum sent them a gift in brown wrinkly paper, probably a former supermarket bag. Inside, there was a wooden sailboat with a note saying, "Along the seas of life may your ship always sail smoothly."

    Several weeks later, they spied the same ship at a supermarket. It was $18.99.

    "We both started laughing," Pioli said. "It said a lot about the man. It was simple and thoughtful, and not in a derogatory way, it was him. It was something he felt in his heart, and even if it was a cheap old boat from Shop Rite, he wanted to get it for us."

    On New Year's Eve, Pioli and Belichick drove from Massachusetts to New Jersey for Buchsbaum's funeral. Only about a dozen people showed up. His mother. His editor. A couple of cousins. A few friends from the gym. Accorsi. Bussert.

    In February, about 30 people went to a memorial service at the annual scouting combine, where NFL teams evaluate prospective players. Pro Football Weekly staffers handed out tribute books filled with stories and notes about Buchsbaum. More than 300 e-mails from all over the world were posted on the magazine's Web site about him.

    Pile of mail

    Fran Buchsbaum didn't know that her son was famous, or that he influenced so many people.

    At 84, she is a whisper of a woman. Most days you can find her in the same spot, sitting in her neat beige living room.

    These days, she listens to a tape of the St. Louis radio show dedicated to her son. He's described as "the only man who knows and who cares who is the third-string quarterback from Alcorn State."

    There's a pile of mail on the desk in her foyer, sent by her son's admirers, but she hasn't had the strength to read it, even months after his death. Instead, she holds the tribute book. A chain smoker, she exhales and smoke floats through the room like a thin veil.

    "Such adoration, such adulation," she said, wiping a tear. "I had no idea. Every one of these people says he was a genius. I've never heard of these men, but look here, an NFL general manager said he was a legend. I guess he would know."

    Pictures of her son line her bookcase. In one, he's a tan teenager with meaty arms, sitting on a couch with a dog. Another shows him as a high schooler with longish, wavy hair and a broad face.

    Her son's TVs are in her living room, each bound for another household. They sit next to two wooden sailboats he gave her.

    In the building next door, Apartment 4L is empty.

    After Buchsbaum's funeral, his editor went into the apartment to collect material for the latest draft book. He took about a dozen small boxes. The building's superintendent threw away the rest.

    In the cupboards, the super found 500 cans of mushrooms, 100 bottles of Diet Sprite, some popcorn and dozens of ice cube trays filled with soda. The gas to the oven was off. No one cooked there. The air conditioner had been broken for years.

    Now Buchsbaum's dog, Miss Brooks, taken in by a cousin, is living in the suburbs. The floor is bare. The rooms echo.

    Next door, Fran Buchsbaum is alone.

    Nearly three months after her son's death, she received a call from a reporter looking for Joel. He needed insight about the draft.

    "I can't give you any information," she said. She covered her eyes. Then, "He's dead. That's it. It's over."

  2. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    In some ways a very sad story. Yet the man died doing what he loved.
  3. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Backwoods Sexy Staff Member

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    I think someone had an article like this shortly after he passed...might be the same one.

    Guy was one of the best IMO but it is sad that he lived like that.
  4. HoleInTheRoof

    HoleInTheRoof Benched

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    I wish I could find some of his draft write ups from back in the day, around the mid-1990's or so. It would be interesting to see how accurate he was.

    I know a lot more people on these forums hold him in high regard. I didn't start to follow the draft until around 2002, so I'm not terribly familiar with him.

    But everyone who is in the know all seem to agree that he was the best.
  5. Chocolate Lab

    Chocolate Lab Run-loving Dino

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    Great article. Here's another one I found. I wish I'd known he had those shows on KMOX or KTHR... I'd definitely have tried to listen.

    Meet Joel Buchsbaum, ultimate NFL draftnik
    By JOHN McCLAIN Copyright 1998 Houston Chronicle
    Jan. 6, 2003, 11:48AM

    NEW YORK -- Joel Stephen Buchsbaum resides in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, but he is a cult figure in Houston.

    After 20 years of doing a radio show and sports commentaries on KTRH, even many non-football fans in Houston recognize his nasal Brooklyn accent, which is as different from a Texas twang as Flatbush is from Montrose.

    His name is pronounced "Bucks-baum" at home and "Bush-baum" everywhere else. The pronunciation was changed in 1978 when he got his first radio job at KMOX in St. Louis, where Busch is such a prominent name. He didn't correct the talk-show host; Buchsbaum was so happy to be on the radio, he didn't want to do anything that might mess it up.

    Now 43, Buchsbaum is in his 21st season of writing about college football and the NFL for Pro Football Weekly. But it is his weekly appearance on KTRH (740 AM) that has captured the imagination of sports fans in this part of Texas.

    "When you talk about that (his popularity in Houston), I don't know how to feel," Buchsbaum says with genuine modesty. "I've never seen myself as anything special. I just can't comprehend it, because I'm just another guy in New York. It's almost like you're not speaking about me.

    "Maybe it's because I'm not in Houston. Part of it may be my accent. Part may be that I'm a unique person for radio because I've had no formal training, and I've developed my own style."

    Buchsbaum's apartment near Flatbush Avenue is a museum of scouting information -- a storehouse for game tapes, reference books, media guides, newspapers, magazines and memorabilia from football and baseball teams, including his beloved Baltimore Orioles.

    "I'm reluctant to throw anything away," Buchsbaum says as he looks around an apartment with more bookshelves than a library.

    An Orioles cap and pennant hang on the inside of his front door. The sign above the kitchen door says "Hot Corner" in honor of his dog Brooks, a 10-month-old mixed breed named after Buchsbaum's idol, former Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson.

    "He didn't have great measurable talent, but he was a gutty, consummate team player who was great in the clutch," Buchsbaum says.

    He can still get misty-eyed when he talks about Buck the Wonder Dog, who had to be put to sleep last year at 15.

    Other than sports in general and football and baseball in particular, the only thing Buchsbaum reads about is politics. The only television shows he watches are Law and Order, NYPD Blue and reruns of Quincy. Of all the scouting services, he mentions Mel Kiper and OURLAD as the competition he respects the most.

    The light in Apt. 4L may be on at all hours of the night as Buchsbaum analyzes videotapes of college and NFL players. He works 12 to 14 hours a day in his apartment. In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, he will spend 16 to 18 hours a day working. A computer and two television sets with VCRs are on his desk. Another television and VCR are in his bedroom so he can watch tapes before he falls asleep.

    "I have a crazy schedule, especially at this time of year," he says.

    Buchsbaum's telephone rings constantly. Most of his calls are from NFL scouts and personnel people, radio stations, sportswriters, friends and a few agents, all wanting to get his most up-to-date scouting information.

    In Houston, there is almost a mystique about Buchsbaum. Fans are curious about him because they know so little about him. Some think he is tall and thin with short hair. Others think he is short and pudgy with curly hair. Because he is shy, humble and private, Buchsbaum doesn't like to talk about himself. When a caller asks him something personal, it's obvious from his response that he's uncomfortable revealing much about himself.

    Buchsbaum is 5-8 3/4 (leave it to a draft guru to include the fraction) and 130 pounds. He wears thick glasses. His hair is neither short nor long, just straight. Because of stress, he is allergic to different kinds of foods, so he doesn't eat much. He eats at home, unless he goes to an identical apartment building next door to eat with his parents, Stanley, 86, and Frances, 83.

    Fans want to know about his encyclopedic knowledge of college and pro players. They insist that all that knowledge must be stored in a computer, because no one could disseminate so much information so fast when a caller asks about a player, no matter how obscure.

    But when Buchsbaum does a radio show, he leaves his computer and sits in a recliner so he can relax when taking calls.

    "I still get nervous before shows," he says. "I'm a worrier by nature. I don't feel totally comfortable until I give a couple of good answers and the show starts to flow."

    Buchsbaum still does several radio shows semiregularly in such cities as St. Louis, Baltimore and Buffalo, N.Y., but the only station on which he can be heard weekly is KTRH, from 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays.

    "Radio's too time-consuming," he says. "I'm so busy, I just don't have enough time to devote to talk shows every week. I love doing KTRH, though. I love the callers in Houston because they're different than other cities. It's not a homer city, and the callers are very knowledgeable about football. Many of the calls I get are very stimulating."

    Buchsbaum doesn't like to elaborate. He may give one-word or one-sentence answers if he thinks no more is required. His father, who was a New York City attorney who specialized in tax law, has been his role model.

    "One of the many things he taught me is that, in court, they don't want to know how much you know," he says. "They just want to know the facts that are directly pertinent to the case.

    "My father's the most honest person I've ever known. He's my financial adviser and my best friend. He's someone I can rely on. My father worked very hard for the city, but he was always there when I needed him. I remember one time in Little League, I got in a slump. He took me to the park and threw pitches for hours, and I broke out of my slump.

    "I'm very happy right now, but something that troubles me is that I don't know how I'll react when I lose my parents. They're such a big part of my life. My father means so much to me. When you don't have brothers and sisters, and you don't work in a social environment, you don't have a lot of friends. I'm not an outgoing person who makes friends quickly. Basically, I don't make friends until I know them a long time. I'm not a naturally trusting person."

    When Buchsbaum was growing up, his father took him to sporting events all over the five boroughs of New York. He has been to every stadium and arena in the New York area.

    "I saw the first Mets game at the Polo Grounds and their first game at Shea (Stadium)," he says. "I went to see the Jets when they were the Titans. I was a fan of the old AFL because we couldn't get tickets to Giants games."

    His father was devoted to the Brooklyn Dodgers, and when they moved to Los Angeles in 1958, he couldn't bring himself to cheer for the Yankees. That's why father and son shifted their allegiance to the Orioles, one of the few American League teams that were competitive with the Yankees in those days.

    "For as long as I can remember, I was a big sports fan," Buchsbaum says. "I read everything I could get my hands on. That's how I got into this business."

    Buchsbaum went to State University of New York (Albany) to major in political science and become an attorney, just like his father. But his hobby was writing scouting reports on football players. It began when he was a teen-ager reading the scouting reports of Carl and Pete Marasco in Pro Football Weekly.

    "It started out as a hobby and became a job," he says.

    In 1974, Buchsbaum had transferred to Brooklyn College. He was 20 years old, and he sent his résumé -- complete with scouting reports -- to 120 newspapers and magazines to see if they would be interested in having him write about the NFL draft. Roger Stanton, the publisher of the Football News, hired him. The 1975 draft was the first one Buchsbaum evaluated for publication.

    "I took a writing class after the Football News hired me," he says. "The teacher told me no one would read me because I wasn't colorful. I guess she wanted me to write like Shakespeare."

    In 1978, Pro Football Weekly had an opening for someone to write about college and pro football. Arthur Arkush, the late publisher, called Buchsbaum and offered him a job. It has been a match made in scouting heaven.

    That same year, Buchsbaum got his start in radio. KMOX had Buchsbaum and Joe Stein, draft expert for The Sporting News, on a pre-draft show in St. Louis with some other experts.

    "They were saying that Charles Alexander and Theotis Brown were the best running backs, but I said O.J. Anderson was better than both of them," Buchsbaum says. "The Cardinals drafted Anderson, and he became a very good player.

    "I have a terrible radio voice, but they (KMOX) were fascinated because this squeaky-voice guy from Brooklyn got the pick, and the so-called experts didn't."

    A radio star was born.

    Former KTRH sports director Jerry Trupiano, now a broadcaster with the Boston Red Sox, is a St. Louis native who used to work for KMOX. He heard Buchsbaum on KMOX and put him on KTRH in 1979. That same year, Buchsbaum produced his first scout's notebook for Pro Football Weekly. It was 56 pages. This year's edition is 184 pages.

    Over the years, Buchsbaum has turned down offers from numerous NFL teams to join their scouting departments.

    "I owe Pro Football Weekly, and loyalty's important to me," he says. "They've been a vital part of my life for so long. I like to think I'm vital to them.

    "Although I couldn't do my job without NFL people helping me, I don't know if I could do it (scouting players for an NFL team). I like scouting off tapes. There's more uncertainty with teams, because owners can be so whimsical. I've never come close to taking an offer.

    "I love my job, but it's all-encompassing. If I had to serve jury duty, I'd be dead. I don't think a judge could conceive how important this is to me. My whole life depends on every day getting the material I need. I can't let things pass me by, because I'm a one-man business. I was in the hospital, and I had my parents and friends bringing me the mail every day. I don't know what I'd do if I had to have surgery."

    To relieve stress, Buchsbaum goes to the Paerdegat Athletic Club in Brooklyn six nights a week to work out with some friends.

    "It's the only time of the day I have social contact," he says. "It's a relaxed atmosphere, and I'm around a good group of people."

    He says one friend, Marty Fox, knows more about football than he does.

    "Marty's the one who should be on radio," Buchsbaum says. "He knows more about sports than anyone I know."

    Buchsbaum has never married and doubts he ever will.

    "I can't get married, because I wouldn't be a good husband and father," he says. "My job takes too much time. It wouldn't be fair to them. I may change my mind after my parents are gone, but right now, it's just me and Brooks.

    "To tell you the truth, there are times when I think about what else I could do. It's a scary thought, because I realize I'm not trained for anything else. When it comes my time to go, I hope I'm 90, and I've just finished another draft. Yeah, that's the way I want to go."
  6. Phoenix

    Phoenix Well-Known Member

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    That was an excellent write up. Thanks for posting it.
  7. Arch Stanton

    Arch Stanton it was the grave marked unknown right beside

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    Walsh Turning Pro Without Assurances

    April 05, 1989|By BOB HILL, Staff Writer

    Before making a decision to turn pro, Steve Walsh wanted assurance that he would be selected in the first round of the April 23-24 NFL draft. He said Tuesday he never got that assurance, yet he still opted to skip his final year of college eligibility.

    How early the University of Miami quarterback will be drafted remains uncertain, but it seems unlikely to be anything but the first round.

    In two years as a starter, Walsh helped the Hurricanes to a national title and a 23-1 record while throwing for 5,364 yards and 48 touchdowns.

    Despite his excellent numbers, some NFL scouts have reservations, mainly concerning his arm strength.

    ``He showed us a lot of ability on different types of touch passes, but I did not see great downfield arm strength,`` said John Butler, Buffalo Bills director of scouting. ``I don`t see the real zip I see in Jimmy Kelly. I hate to compare, but Steve showed a lot of the same great headiness as Bernie Kosar, and I like his field generalship, but I don`t know if his arm is even as strong as Bernie`s.``

    Butler said he thought Walsh would be drafted either late in the first round or early in the second.

    Chuck Conner, Dolphins director of player personnel, said Walsh has an ``average to above average arm. Not real live. But the thing you have to like about him is his intelligence.``

    Draft analyst Joel Buchsbaum said Walsh is an excellent prospect, but he would have been better off staying at Miami for another season. ``He`s no Kosar at this point,`` Buchsbaum said. ``He doesn`t anticipate his receiver`s move like Kosar did, and, as a result, Walsh throws late at times after the receiver breaks open.``

    Tom Boisture seems sold on Walsh. The New York Giants` director of player personnel said Walsh`s arm is strong enough. He indicated that Walsh will be drafted in the first round -- maybe by the Giants.

    ``He`s going to make us think a little bit if he`s sitting there,`` Boisture said. ``He`d be hard to pass up.``

    The top quarterbacks available are UCLA`s Troy Aikman, Washington State`s Timm Rosenbach, Southern Cal`s Rodney Peete, Wake Forest`s Mike Elkins, and Walsh. Aikman will likely be the draft`s first pick. Which quarterback goes next is anybody`s guess.

    A look at those teams who may be looking for quarterbacks:

    -- Dallas, first pick: Before Jimmy Johnson became coach, the Cowboys had all but committed themselves to taking Aikman with the first pick. Now they`re hedging, and that has created speculation.

  8. Arch Stanton

    Arch Stanton it was the grave marked unknown right beside

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    NFL's Fastest Ever
    Hayes, Green top list of NFL's fastest ever

    By Joel Buchsbaum, Contributing editor
    As published in print Sept. 24, 2001

    Ex-Cowboys WR
    Bob Hayes

    Some players have what is known as football speed. Others have track speed. Some have both. In his prime, Darrell Green may have had the best combination of the two. Jerry Rice, in his prime, never ran under 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash for the stopwatch. Yet in terms of football speed, he was about a 4.3 guy. On the other hand, Eddie Kennison won races that made him the NFL's fastest man in gym shorts. But after he puts the pads on, he rarely shows that type of speed on the field. With this in mind, we asked NFL insiders who they believe had the best combination of track and football speed. (List only includes post-merger players.)

    1. Bob Hayes / Cowboys "World's fastest man and fastest football player in his prime."

    2. Darrell Green / Redskins "Nolan Ryan was throwing 100 mph when he was over 40 (years old), and Green was running sub-4.4 (in the 40) and still running with all the racehorses."

    3. Cliff Branch / Raiders and Mel Gray / Cardinals (tie) "Both were diminutive sprinters no defensive back could stay with. If they were close to even, they were leaving, and you needed to keep a seven- to 10-yard cushion against both or else they would eat up your cushion and be by you before you could react."

    5. Bo Jackson / Raiders "Before his injury, he was the fastest big man I ever saw. However, he still was more track- than football-fast."

    6. Randy Moss / Vikings "If he trained for it, he could be a world-class sprinter."

    7. Wesley Walker / Jets "A true jet."

    8. Homer Jones / Giants, Browns "A king-size receiver who could run like a deer."

    9. Deion Sanders / Falcons, 49ers, Cowboys, Redskins "Rare playing speed and excellent but not great track times."

    10. Rick Upchurch / Broncos "Could go from zero to 60 like a race car."

    Others mentioned: Stanley Morgan, Lance Alworth, Isaac Curtis, Willie Gault, Jimmy Johnson (49ers), Willie Buchanon (Packers; before injury) and Eric Dickerson.

    Players with great timed speed who never could get it to translate to the field.

    1. Johnny "Lam" Jones / Jets
    2. Rocky Thompson / Giants
    3. Eddie Kennison / Rams, Saints, Bears, Broncos
    4. Larry Burton / Saints
    5. Gerald Tinker / Falcons
    6. Steve Raible / Seahawks
    7. Gaston Green / Rams
    8. Randal Hill / Cards, Dolphins
    9. Alexander Wright / Cowboys
    10. James Williams / Bills
  9. Duane

    Duane Well-Known Member

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    His PFW Draft Guide was a must read back in the day. And while Joel wasn't perfect he was miles ahead of guys like Kiper and the other also rans in my opinion.
  10. Phoenix

    Phoenix Well-Known Member

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    And then some. Man I used to love watching Walker fly. He was one of my favorite players in the league.

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