The Legend Of Joel Buchsbaum

April 25th, 2024

(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, a decade after that same voice fell silent.

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 he 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 speak football Gospel 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 his nasally “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 despite his abilities.

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 true recluse, Buchsbaum died 22 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.

(The guys Joe looked up to in sports growing up are just about gone now. Bobby Knight, Whitey Herzog, Beano Cook, Bill Walsh, John McKay, John Madden, Bobby Bowden, Buchsbaum. Seems like Barry Switzer, Bill Parcells and Tom Osbourne are the last guys left.)

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 — it really offends Joe on several levels. Buchsbaum would be revolted.

So as Day 1 of the draft is here, and maybe by midnight we’ll find out if Jared Verse or Johnny Newton 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 later tonight for Buchsbaum.

Here and here and here are cool stories about Buchsbaum.

Enjoy the draft! Buchsbaum sure would.

34 Responses to “The Legend Of Joel Buchsbaum”

  1. geno711 Says:

    I had a great friend of mine since passed, that was not only a Buccaneer fan but a doctor that got sent some Bucs players to his office with injuries.

    It was through his actions that I got the opportunity to go to Super Bowl 18 at Tampa Stadium.

    He also introduced me to Joel Buchsbaum, whose player evaluations became a topic of great discussion between us. One evaluation that particularly stood out was Buchsbaum’s assessment of Jerry Ball, the talented nose tackle from SMU who eventually joined the Detroit Lions. Both my friend and I were convinced that Ball would have been an excellent addition to the Buccaneers in 1987.

    Ball went on to earn three Pro Bowl selections during his impressive 13-year career, another spot-on evaluation from Buchsbaum.

    It is with fond memories that I think of my friend Ron today. He was not only a Buccaneer fan but a fine musician. We played together for over 30 years.

    Our relationship spanned Bucs football, music and even a little bit of Joel Buchsbaum.

  2. Scubog Says:

    Back before ESPN was even a full time station, sharing the airtime with CSPAN, all most of us had was the plethora of questionable publications to learn about the draftees. My absolute favorite, and the one proved to be most accurate was Pro Football Weekly with Joel Buchsbaum, and Joel’s own book that I purchased every year. Sure miss this pioneer.

  3. OHBucFan Says:


  4. heyjude Says:

    That was a great read. Buchsbaum’s take on Brady was logistically sound and Brady got on the right team with the system and coach that isn’t for everyone. History was made.

  5. mg Says:

    These are the reads that bring me to this site.
    Thank you,

  6. Jvato24 Says:

    Draft Day!!!!

  7. Lt. Dan Says:

    Love the annual tradition Joe.! I’ll be steaming “Draft Day” with Kevin Costner again today.

  8. Toad Bowels Says:

    I read Joel’s columns in Pro Football Weekly for years. I used to buy PFW had a little family run news stand near USF on Fletcher avenue near 15th street. The parents eventually died and the son took over and the son ended up selling out.

    I used to pour over everything Buchsbaum wrote. And he had a TV show somewhere out in the Midwest that I wasn’t able to get live but I was able to get tapes of that even though they were 6 months old I would take them home and watch them and rewatch them.

    Read a few biographies mainly in PFW about Joel. He was a very unusual guy, very frail, few friends, lived like a hermit, chain smoked, had a cat, but poured through thousands of tapes back in the day when there was no internet. His reputation grew and he was able to befriend many NFL executives as well as high school and college coaches.

    Thank you for your annual reminder of Joel’s legacy.

  9. Allen Lofton Says:

    I’m giving away my age, I remember him. He’s everything Joe said!!!

  10. SB~LV Says:

    The old days were certainly more dear…
    The NFL’s monstrosity of the first round is unbearable for my old school football soul.
    Same reason I don’t, can’t, watch the overproduced Olympics.
    Be sure to follow the Pat McAffee draft show tonight, it’s much more entertaining and just as insightful into the players and team needs and strategies

  11. jd Says:

    Very good story – Enjoyed it >>>>Go Bucs!

  12. D-Rome Says:

    Very nice article, Joe. I know this has become a tradition to publish this every year. Believe me when I say that somewhere out there, there is a young person that you have made an impression on with this site just like Joel Buchsbaum made an impression on you.

  13. Joe Says:

    there is a young person that you have made an impression on with this site just like Joel Buchsbaum made an impression on you.

    Hope not!!! LOL

    Those are kind words D-Rome, and thank you.

    If Joe inspires anyone, it’s to chase their dream. Joe knows this site for many is a football distraction for their 9-5 jobs.

    Joe won’t out the guy but there was a dude who covered the Bucs who could not understand why Bucs fans would devour any morsel of Bucs news. Joe often told him most folks are chained to a desk job and anything to keep them sane and their mind away from work with football is like an extra coffee break. He couldn’t understand that.

    Joe has never lost sight of that. And part of the reason this site exists is to help people keep sane and get them through another work day.

    If someone is inspired and motivated by that to chase their dreams, sure hope they reach them. Beats working for a living.

  14. Brent Says:

    Favorite article every year, bar none. I read word-for-word (Oda Mae Brown reference) every year regardless of how many times it’s published. Good ‘ol Joel is the official kick off of football Christmas!

  15. Joe Says:


    Very nice story. Thanks for sharing.


    Thanks for the kind words. Glad Joe’s recollections of Joel Buchsbaum brings back some memories for some.

  16. Joe Says:

    Good ‘ol Joel is the official kick off of football Christmas!

    That’s what today is, football Christmas. Only have to wait until this evening to open the first present.

    Thank you Brent!

  17. adam from ny Says:

    joe, very cool that you post joel b every year at the draft…

    paying homage…

    #TheOriginalDraftDude #TheLordsOfFlatbush

  18. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    I would have loved to hear his breakdown of Fiddle Faddle Greene WR/CB out of the University of Southwestern La Croix State.

  19. David Says:

    Great story.
    The first thing I thought of was the Robert De Niro character from Casino. In real life, that person knew everything and anything about every college player about to play a game
    Of course his Was for gambling reasons, but amazing how much knowledge the two of them amassed in the days before cell phones and google

  20. BillyBucco Says:

    BAs Red Pen
    Watch Key and Peele East/ West Bowl Game player intros.
    That’s freaking hilarious.

  21. Dave Pear Says:

    Joel would have also been all over Shangrus Piltz. Sudden, unexpected burst. Unknown outside of small college circles.

  22. Ben the GA Buc Says:

    Yeah I look forward to this article every year. Gets me pumped up for draft night. Thanks, Joe.

  23. james white Says:

    lived in st louis from 1964-1986…listened to kmox (joel ) for yrs. always enjoy the article. thx

  24. Joe Says:

    Thanks again for the kind words guys.

  25. OrlandoBucFAn Says:

    Hard to believe Joel passed away 22 years ago. I always looked forward to his draft digests. I actually collected them over the years and would go back and review them once and a while, but they were all lost during one my many moves. I wish I still had the 93,94, 95 and 97 draft digests.

    With regard to Brady, don’t give Belicheat or Buchsbaum too much credit (though I have a lot of admiration for the latter). The real credit should go to Dick Rehbein, the Patriots’ quarterback coach, and the director of player personnel, Bobby Grier. They were the geniuses who recognized Brady’s ability and potential and it was because of their research and personal scouting assessment that influenced Belicheat. On a personal note, Dick Rehbein’s daughter was my son’s third grade teacher. Sadly, Rehbein died from a heart condition in 2001 and was not able to see Brady win this first Super Bowl or become the GOAT.

  26. matthew a veal Says:

    i get weary of society way too often disrespecting genius by saying crap like “he just wasn’t meant for this world”, instead promoting stylish clowns and making no effort to use the gifts some people bring us, blocking progress while they do it.

    and no i don’t mean use talent like this on derivatives trading etc.
    RIP mr. bucshbaum.

    and your welcome to channel into jason over the next 2-3 days if such an otherworldly thing is possible…

  27. theodore Says:

    I read this article every year, thank you

  28. Joe Says:

    Thank you Theodore! 👍

  29. D-Rok Says:

    Love this annual tradition, thank you Joe!

  30. D-Rok Says:

    Also, whilst I realize most people despise Belichick, one who says that he wasn’t a football savant are not seeing the facts clearly.

    As a football fan, of course I’m aware of Bill’s accolades/accomplishments, moreso when Brady arrived. I had come to the conclusion that Bill had his own in-house savant, Ernie Adams, which greatly helped Bill. Apparently Adams wasn’t the only genius Belichick sought advice from – it’s a cool nugget that Joel would bother to help “Belicheat.”

    Which got me thinking: With Adams and Buchsbaum to speak with, maybe Belichick wasn’t the genius most think he is? Maybe he just knew WHOM to seek advice from?

    Just some musings since I’m a fan of the game.

    Go Bucs – let’s get some studs tonight!!

  31. Colin in Canada Says:

    Came here for this post. Thanks for everything Joes.

  32. FloridaMan Says:

    I’m jealous I didn’t get to enjoy those draft insights. I’ve come to look forward to this tradition every draft, thank you Joe.

  33. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Cheers to you Joe!

  34. garro Says:

    Always love the anual Homage Joe.


    It is a real shame that what he loved has been turned into a Three Ring Circus by the sports media network suits. Aimed at the caual fan and 12 year olds.

    Go Bucs