The Legend of Joel Buchsbaum

April 25th, 2019

(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 of the old St. Louis Cardinals 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 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 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, often beginning his responses with “Ooohhh-KAY!” as if he was revving up the engine of a Mustang just before putting the rig into gear.

Periodically, Buchsbaum would invoke 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 was like fresh honey to flies. He was like the Rain Man.

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 16 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 if Brian Burns will be sacking opposing quarterbacks this fall for the Bucs, 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.

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.

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.

18 Responses to “The Legend of Joel Buchsbaum”

  1. mdsbuc Says:

    I’ll raise one as well. PFW could not come soon enough for me, back in the day.

  2. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    Always a good read…never gets old…thanks for the annual post.

  3. Bird Says:

    I thought one joe played football up north.

    Did the other go to FSU?
    Brian burns random comment thrown in there and we already know how he feels about The QB ………“America “

    Just curious

  4. firethecannons Says:

    Wow thanks Joe! enjoyed it! Have fun tonight, use uber and hope and pray Licht don’t trade down too far we lose out on all the talent

    trade down and get a few extra piks
    take White or Oliver (Allen gone)
    trade back up with those picks plus our 2nd and get Brian Burns

  5. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Nice to see this annual article!

  6. Durango 95 Says:

    Had about 8 years worth of his NFL Draft Preview books. Incredible detail. Unfortunately I threw them away. Still picking myself for that stupid move. Thanks for the story Joe. Great tradition.

  7. Ra'Shad Says:

    Thanks Joe for the post. I read it every year with the same excitement. Did you drop a hint that the bucs will trade down with redskins and draft Burns from FSU ?

  8. miken Says:

    Always great to see this. This is a well deserved repost!!!!

  9. LargoBuc Says:

    Every year in the first day of the draft, the first thing I do is read this article! Thanks Joe!

  10. Silent_Partner Says:

    Good mentor. Buchsbaum, was great. Let’s just say if Jon Gruden had hired him to be his GM instead of Mayock, no one would have been laughing at him for the kids not familiar with his work. He was that good at picking players who would be good.

  11. adambomb418 Says:

    The tradition continues…

  12. Larry Says:

    Thanks Joe. I appreciate reading this again and again every year.

    It’s a JBF tradition that I really enjoy.

  13. Tampa Bay Demon Says:

    Great stuff, JOE. – Really love these type of articles, and remembering fondly upon my own NFL nostalgia from years gone by. Thank you.

  14. Joe Says:

    Thanks guys!

  15. Denny Says:

    Joe, great tribute article. We go back quite a ways Joe having played for that same Coach together at Central. Glad to see you’re doing what you always loved. Buchsbaum was from another world. I once called him while stationed in Texas after I watched a kid play for Angelo State University. Like you stated, he cut me off as soon as I said “Joel, your thoughts on a small school Lineman down here named ….” Buchsbaum “named Pierce Holt, a late bloomer who skipped college until his High School Coach recruited him to San Angelo a couple years later…he’ll be a late 1st, early second rounder next year”…went second round to the 49ers…

  16. Bucs4821 Says:

    I enjoy reading this every year. I’m always interested in new additions. I’m looking forward to reading the 3 linked stories.

  17. Joe Says:

    Denny:

    Damn, someone from Clinton County is on this site! Welcome!

    That’s a great Buchsbaum story!

  18. nick Says:

    great tradition, keep it up! for as long as possible!