By Jason Shoot
Hundreds of millions of people around the world consider Christmas to occur every year on the 25th of December, and while that may be true, my Christmas comes on the third weekend of every April.
Sure, I don't get to open presents, eat baked ham, or spend time with family believe me, they don't want to, anyway but instead I get to lounge around drooling on myself in a comatose state staring at my television.
That's right, people, it's NFL Draft day.
Each year the NFL takes a glimpse at its future, and teams either build their futures or mark the beginning of a downward spiral to the abyss of Cincinnati Bengal-ville. And ESPN brings it all to me live with all the scouting, highlights and opinions to make a football fan forget he has a wife and kids, which, thankfully, I don't.
San Diego has the luxury of owning the first pick well, if you can consider it a luxury after struggling through one of the ugliest seasons in recent league history last year.
Michael Vick is the player most football prognosticators believe will be the Chargers' pick this year, but certainly that could change due to any number of factors Vick's pursuit of an eight-figure signing bonus, his overeagerness to scramble outside the pocket, trade offers, etc.
The Chargers could play it safe by drafting Texas Christian running back LaDainian Tomlinson or even a mammoth offensive lineman. They may trade the pick and move a few spots down the draft and pick someone who can immediately help the team, unlike Vick, who would be benched for two or maybe three seasons and learn from the sidelines.
Barring a Herschel Walker-type trade offer, any of those moves would be completely foolish.
The prototypical quarterback in today's NFL has a bionic cannon attached to his shoulder and the ability to run like a Barry Sanders. Vick, who was 20-1 in his career at Virginia Tech, has these attributes.
It's the other attributes that has some general managers and scouts a little wary about picking the 6-foot, 215-pound quarterback.
With Vick so anxious to scramble and put his legs to work instead of his arm and head he could certainly get himself terribly hurt while running downfield trying to gain a few extra yards or get himself into the end zone.
But isn't that what the NFL is all about, and why we love it so much? The sheer savagery of the sport?
The Chargers recently signed former Chicago-New England-Buffalo quarterback Doug Flutie to a six-year contract. That's right, a six-year deal for a 5-10, 180-pound, 38-year-old fossil.
Don't get me wrong, I am a Flutie fan. The guy puts his team in position to win, but 38 is 38, and he'll turn 39 during next season. One brutal blindside hit by a 300-pounder, and his career could be over.
If that happens, the Chargers have to turn to Dave Dickenson, the Montana native who led the Montana Grizzlies to the NCAA Division I-AA national championship in 1995, and like Flutie, a football legend in this state and the Canadian Football League.
I've been aware of Dickenson's talents since his days with the Griz, and there's no doubt he is a capable quarterback. But is he a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback now, and will he be in the future? As much as I hate to say it especially while I live in Montana and value my life my opinion is, well, the jury's still out on that.
And any talk of this pick being a repeat performance of the drafting of Ryan Leaf is ludicrous.
I was sitting 10 feet from Leaf in a bar in Pullman, Wash., when he decided to throw beer on bar patrons and told the entire bar he could buy their parents, blah, blah, blah. That was quite the kindly gesture when considering it was Dad's Weekend at Washington State University, and the bar was full of parents trying to enjoy the weekend with their kids.
Leaf is a (insert whatever expletive you see fit), and the signs of trouble were there long before the Chargers drafted him with the second pick of the 1998 draft.
Vick is none of the things Leaf is, and all of the things Leaf isn't. He is aware of his shortcomings and is willing to do all that he can to overcome them.
Let's hope the Chargers decide to do the same with their shortcomings and make the right decision.