The Legend Of Joel Buchsbaum

April 27th, 2023

(This is a repost of a 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 air and originated from a city Joe finally visited for the first time in September 2012.

Growing up, two people 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 Joe has forgotten about football from a man unknown to 99.99999 percent of the populace.

Joe warmly remembers covering his first NFL training camp. There was Stallings, the grizzled old head coach of the St. Louis Cardinals. He vividly remembered Joe’s high school coach playing for him, and Stallings treated Joe like family after learning his protegé coached Joe in high school.

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

Joe first heard Joel Buchsbaum on a blowtorch radio station out of St. Louis, KMOX. There, every Monday prior to Monday Night Football (and Sunday nights during the offseason), Buchsbaum, the original draftnik, would talk to strangers throughout flyover country. He provided 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 or Michael Lombardi.

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 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 a player 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 and the internet, so Buchsbaum couldn’t have Googled the player’s name in five seconds to pull up his information because neither Google nor the internet existed. This also was during the infancy of BSPN, so Utah State football may have well been Charles University of Prague football, for all Joe knew.

Buchsbaum’s knowledge was unreal. 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 name the best draftnik. They researched Buchsbaum, Mel Kiper and a third guy Joe had not heard of and still can’t remember his name. The Sporting News broke down each man’s final mock draft through four rounds for three consecutive years.

Buchsbaum won big.

A recluse, Buchsbaum died 20 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 and college inside sources. Included at the top of the list was Bill Belicheat, who tried to hire Buchsbaum several times but was spurned with each offer.

Whenever Joe hears mock draft guys who pump out three mocks a week starting in January brag that they have no interest in accuracy — a draft dude currently employed by the four-letter actually told Joe that — Joe can only chortle and walk away shaking his head. That would have revolted Buchsbaum. If the old Twitter comrades were so triggered by misinformation as they claimed, these mockers would have been thrown off the platform years ago.

So as Day 1 of the draft is here, and maybe by midnight we find out if Anton Harrison or Hendon Hooker will be terrorizing Bucs opponents for the next decade, 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, Houston Chronicle columnist emeritus.

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 — a non-team employee — in the hours leading to the draft, a practice absolutely unheard of in NFL circles.

Joe will raise a Big Storm beer tonight for Buchsbaum.

Here and here and here are cool stories about Buchsbaum.

Enjoy the draft!

34 Responses to “The Legend Of Joel Buchsbaum”

  1. Rod Munch Says:

    I’ve somehow missed this article each year, thanks for reposting it. Growing up here, and normally living a good 30-40 miles north Tampa, AM radio was always hit and miss, and there was not FM sports talk then. I would have loved to have this type of football talk to listen to, instead all I knew was Mel Kiper and whatever garbage the Sporting News decided to print. Well that and the Tampa Trib, but I don’t recall a lot of draft stuff (also no real Bucs fan read the fake news St Pete Times with their pitiful sports section).

    As for Brady, that was an excellent scouting report, and for the Trask believers, it should give them hope. Brady didn’t drive the ball, just like Trask. While Trask can throw 65 yard rainbows, those do not work in the NFL. He needs to drive the ball, and Brady learned to do that, and was one of the harder throwing guys in the NFL at the end of his career. So it can be done, at least if you’re the GOAT.

  2. SteveK Says:

    One of my favorite days and articles

    Joe- Michael Lombardi had mentioned Bushbaum recently on his podcast. It was awesome. Mad respect. And he quoted Walsh as saying, “call bushbam!”

  3. Obvious Says:

    I remember it Joe. Thought I recognized it the last time you told the story. The picture of him is what stood out to me. Looks like he refused to change his 70’s fashion style but you had me intrigued then as you do with this man today. You seem to tweek it a bit each time you write it down. Almost identical but not quite.

    Well Done, Well Told

  4. OHBucFan Says:

    Classic. Thanks for the tradition, Joe.

  5. FortMyersDave Says:

    Great article Joe, Mr Buchsbaum was decades ahead of his time. Look forward to it each year. Many thanks.

    I miss those days of clear channel radio, used to listen to KMOX when in college in Tallahassee and Tuscaloosa and tune in Cards baseball at night. That 50000 watt signal is indeed a blowtorch.

  6. firethecannons Says:

    Finally I thought you forgot about it Good tradition

  7. FortMyersDave Says:

    Great article. Thanks for posting this each year Joe. Mr Buchsbaum was decades ahead of his time. Great stuff. Thanks again.

    I miss clear channel radio with all the different sports teams you could hear about at night. I used to listen to Card baseball at night on KMOX as a student in Tallahassee and Tuscaloosa. That 50000 watt signal was indeed a blowtorch.

  8. Lou Says:

    Annual Read, great as always. Amazing the knowledge Joel had back in the day without internet is mind blowing. can you imagine the research this guy had to do to know what he did. just wow. Draft Day!! lets go!!!

  9. Topdoggie Says:

    Read this every year.

  10. Lt. Dan Says:

    LOVE that you go back and post this annually Joe. Mr Buchsbaum = original draft GOAT.

  11. Beej Says:

    Would love to see an article that went 5 years forward from each draft to show either how smart or how stupid most of these prognosticators are

  12. adam from ny Says:

  13. Razor Ramone Says:

    This article has become a cool tradition.

  14. Joe Says:

    Thanks guys!

  15. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    A time-honoured tradition. Thank you Joe!

  16. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    On this day, we take a moment to honor the memory of Macabee, a dedicated fan of NFL draft prospects and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose knowledge and passion for the game were unparalleled. Though he departed from us three years ago, his invaluable insights and love for the sport will always be remembered.

    Rest in peace, Macabee.

  17. Beionny in Dallas Says:

    Seeing this article every year reminds me of how long I’ve been reading you guys’ content. Wow. It’s the perfect piece to wake up to on one of my favorite days of the year. I know we don’t tell ya this enough Joe but thank you for all the years of passion and professionalism. It feels good to know that I can count on one team of dedicated journalists for informed content expressed in a most entertaining way. Enjoy the draft party and God Bless.

  18. Joe Says:

    On this day, we take a moment to honor the memory of Macabee, a dedicated fan of NFL draft prospects and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Good job!

    He was a passionate Bucs fan from Clearwater. Regular commenters. Super nice guy.

  19. garro Says:

    Joes, I feel cheated. But then again not.
    We only had Salty Sol and Andy Hardy when I was coming up…LOL loved Salty Sol!
    And of course we had the legendary Tom MacEwen and Sunday Morning Breakfast editions in the Trib.

  20. miken Says:

    I like to read this article every year. You’re a good man, Joe.

  21. james white Says:

    I remember Joel very well..Lived in St Louis 23 yrs
    I also remember 8$ end zone seats at Busch stadium
    I still hate the Bidwells for moving . thx for memories

  22. Joe Says:

    I still hate the Bidwells for moving

    One cool thing about the Bidwills:

    The old football Cardinals didn’t get any cut of concessions at Busch Stadium. So they’d let you bring beer in (though no bottles).

    We used to bring one of those five-gallon Igloo liquid coolers into the game full of Michelob. Good times!

    (Once, we had a case of Michelob in one of those coolers and when nobody was watching, a crazy dude we were with poured a pint of Jack Daniels in it to make boilermakers. Another dude we were with said in the middle of the second quarter, “You know it’s bad when you can’t see the bottom of a glass of Michelob.” LOL)

  23. Joe Says:

    Thanks again for the kind words guys!

  24. Joe Says:

    We only had Salty Sol and Andy Hardy when I was coming up…LOL loved Salty Sol!

    Don’t feel bad. Most of America never heard him, though he did write for Pro Football Weekly.

    What’s odd is Buchsbaum only did two radio shows in America and he was loyal to those stations until he died. He was a regular on John McClain’s show in Houston and on KMOX he had rotating hosts over the years, one of which was Bob Costas. Howard Balzer was another host.

  25. Goatfarmer Says:

    Thanks for keeping the legend alive, Joe. Buchsbaum is better than just about all the technology driven, corporate speaking, know-it-all yelling “experts” out there today.

    Obviously there is no substitute for hard work and, yes, intuition!

  26. Winny Testaverde Says:

    This annual article is a keeper indeed.

    Someday…hopefully far off the the future…a similar tale will be told about Buchabaum’s “spirit animal” Lee D. A Tampa Bay Buccaneers maven…who ate & breathed ( and perhaps drank ) all things Bucs…24/7/365.

    Until then…the legend of JBF grows!

  27. Goatfarmer Says:

    Joe – that story about the Michelob is EPIC! Bwaaaahaaahahahaaa!

    Wow, wish I’d been with you for those days.

  28. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I always looked forward to buying Joel Bushsbaum’s draft digest each year. Sadly, during a move, my collection was lost. I probably had a decade of draft digests in my throne room. I loved referring back to them to compare Bushsbaum’s analysis with a player’s success (or not) on the field. Thanks Joe for sharing this story.

  29. Crickett Baker Says:

    Enjoyed this very much.

  30. SomeDudeAtWork Says:


  31. D-Rok Says:

    Good stuff, Joe!

    Love the Michelob cooler story! When I was in the Army we used to make “jungle juice.” Grab a cooler, throw in any/all fruit juice and cubed fruits, then a few bottles of Everclear. Half the guys were passed out by 9pm – the other half were pissed since they had to be on guard duty, baby-sitting half a battallion of drunken fools. Good times! (PS: I haven’t touched a drop of Everclear since then…)

  32. Joe Says:


    Dudes went to college with did the jungle juice too. Only they’d do hits through a cleaned out fire extinguisher. 🙂🤦‍♂️

  33. mg Says:

    Enjoyed the read again, Thanks.
    A true pioneer.

  34. Colin in Canada Says:

    Great tradition Joes. Loyal reader and fan of the pod. Thanks for the great content!