The Legend Of Joel Buchsbaum

April 28th, 2016

(This is a repost of a previously published article Joe runs as an annual tradition for the morning of the first day of the NFL draft.)

Joe’s going to go slightly personal here, a rare, albeit tiny window into Joe’s background on this holiest of high football holidays.

Joe got hooked on the NFL draft as a kid from an alien-like voice that floated through the Midwestern night and originated from a city Joe finally visited for the first time in September 2012.

Growing up as a kid, there were two people who turned Joe into the football freak he is today. One was Joe’s high school football coach, a guy who played for a virtual who’s who of football coaches: John Madden, Tom Landry, Gene Stallings and Lou Holtz. It kills Joe how much he has forgotten about football from a man unknown by 99.99999 percent of the populace. Joe remembers covering his first NFL training camp warmly. There, grizzled Stallings was the head coach who vividly remembered Joe’s high school coach playing for him. After learning Joe played for one of his protegés, Stallings treated Joe like one of his family members.

The Rain Man of Football

The second source fueling Joe’s unwavering football fetish came from an unlikely location: a Brooklyn apartment.

Joe first heard of Joel Buchsbaum on a blowtorch radio station out of St. Louis, KMOX. There, each Monday night (prior to Monday Night Football), and Sunday night (during the offseason), Buchsbaum, the original draftnik, would talk to strangers throughout the Midwest, giving listeners knowledge on college football players and the NFL that, to this day, Joe finds unmatched — not even by Mike Mayock, not even by Mel Kiper, not even by Pat Kirwan.

People would call the show and ask Buchsbaum about (pick a player), and often before the caller finished his question, Buchsbaum would interrupt and begin rattling off the talents and drawbacks of said player, periodically invoking his favorite saying of lesser players, “Looks like Tarzan; plays like Jane.”

Pleasantries were not a forte of Buchsbaum. He was not rude, not even close, but he was very short and impatient with rambling callers.

Joe remembers some guy asking Buchsbaum about (name of the player long ago forgotten), who the caller claimed was a starting cornerback at Utah. Buchsbaum, in his shrill, nasally, thick Brooklyn accent, corrected the caller almost immediately. No, the player is not from Utah, Buchsbaum said, but from Utah State. And in fact he was a backup cornerback.

This did not stop Buchsbaum from launching into why the player was not starting and why coaches didn’t start him despite the promise he showed. Mind you, this was long before the days of laptops, so Buchsbaum couldn’t have Googled the player’s name in five seconds to pull up his information (partially because neither Google nor the Internet existed).

It was unreal what this guy knew. And in Joe’s circle of fellow football friends, guys who rarely if ever listened to an AM station, Buchsbaum had their attention. He was like the Rain Man.

Outperformed His Contemporaries

Fast forward maybe 15 years and the Sporting News decided to find out who was the best draftnik. They researched Buchsbaum, Mel Kiper and a third guy Joe had not heard of before and still can’t remember. The Sporting News broke down each man’s final mock draft through four rounds for three consecutive years.

Buchsbaum won not only the race, but he had more correct picks each year.

Buchsbaum, a recluse, died 14 years ago. In a perverted way Joe was jealous of the guy. All he did was study football, read football, write football, talk football and work his many NFL inside sources, which included at the top of the list, Bill Belicheat, who tried to hire Buchsbaum but was spurned with each offer.

So as Day 1 of the draft is here, and in a few hours or so we find out who the Bucs will select, Joe can’t help but remember Buchsbaum and that unforgettable voice.

Here’s a nugget from acclaimed football scribe, and friend of Buchsbaum, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

Did you know Buchsbaum was on ESPN when the network first televised the draft? He looked like such a nerd. I imagine the network executives didn’t like the way he looked or sounded, so they hired Mel “Ki-pa.”

Chad Finn of the Boston Globe decided to dig up Buchsbaum’s breakdown of Tom Brady coming out of Michigan and with the “positives,” Buchsbaum nailed the analysis.

Positives: Good height to see the field. Very poised and composed. Smart and alert. Can read coverages. Good accuracy and touch. Produces in big spots and big games. Has some Brian Griese in him and is a gamer. Generally plays within himself. Team leader.

Negatives: Poor build. Very skinny and narrow. Ended the ’99 season weighing 195 pounds and still looks like a rail at 211. Looks a little frail and lacks great physical stature and strength. Can get pushed down more easily than you’d like. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid the rush. Lacks a really strong arm. Can’t drive the ball down the field and does not throw a really tight spiral. System-type player who can get exposed if he must ad-lib and do things on his own.

Summary: Is not what you’re looking for in terms of physical stature, strength, arm strength, and mobility but he has the intangibles and production and showed great Griese-like improvement as a senior. Could make it in the right system but is not for everyone.

Belicheat Confidant

Recently, Joe was watching an NFL Network documentary about the draft and current Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was no fan of Buchsbaum as a young player. Drafted in the sixth round out of Purdue, Grigson was unnerved Buchsbaum predicted just where Grigson was drafted. Later, Grigson admitted, when he got into scouting, he re-read Buchsbaum’s breakdown of his coming out of Purdue and Grigson said, in retrospect, Buchsbaum perfectly described him as an NFL prospect.

Urban legend is that Belicheat, one of the few friends Buchsbaum had, took a flyer on Brady based on Buchsbaum’s recommendation. Belicheat since has acknowledged he would annually go over his draft board with Buchsbaum in the hours leading to the draft, which Joe independently confirmed from a former Patriots employee.

Joe will raise a bottle of beer tonight for Buchsbaum … after the draft and when Joe is finished banging out story after story.

Here and here and here are some cool stories about Buchsbaum.

14 Responses to “The Legend Of Joel Buchsbaum”

  1. Tom Edrington Says:

    Wondering if the Joe(s) inherited the 22 cats that lived with Joel?

  2. harry Says:

    Thank you Joe. I read this every year and love it. I remember listening to Buchsbaum all the time

  3. jvato24 Says:

    Must be draft day

  4. 911bucs Says:

    Thanks Joe that story is still a good read each year.

  5. Wes Says:

    How did you end up a bucs fan?

  6. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    A timeless tradition, here on JBF.

    Joe thank you for keeping the memory of Joel Buchsbaum; alive & well.


  7. DavidbigBucsFan Says:

    Man Joe I thought that was you! You ever heard of face for the radio??? Man that’s a face for the internet! That is a good story about him though. Shows you the substance of ESPN and most Americans, show over substance no matter how they try to spin it.

  8. Buccfan37 Says:

    Sounds like a smart guy. He must be special, his is the only pic that can be enlarged.

  9. William Walls Says:

    I love reading this story every year.

  10. Joe Says:

    How did you end up a bucs fan?

    Combination of Doug Williams, Lee Roy Selmon, Batman Wood and those beautiful creamsicle jerseys.

  11. Meatloph Says:

    “Buchsbaum, a recluse, died fourteen years ago. In a perverted way”

    I missed the period the first time i read this sentence haha.

  12. Mike Says:

    Another 5-11 season coming right up.

  13. Jerseybuc Says:

    I was a faithful reader of Pro Football Weekly for years. Joel was ahead of his time. Info was so much better than what you would get anywhere else.
    Nice tribute Joe.

  14. Joe Says:

    Thanks Jersey.