The weekend of the NFL draft used to be a holiday for me.
Like the opening weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, it usually involved minimal daylight or fresh air, unhealthy eating habits, a lack of good hygiene and countless hours spent sitting on the couch, soaking in every bit of the overhyped television coverage.
It's probably the dorkiest of the dorkiest mainstream sporting events to obsess over - reserved for a special group of shut-ins, second only to baseball draft junkies - and I'm comfortable admitting that.
But this new format is really throwing a wrench into what was my most unproductive weekend of the year.
From 1995-2009, the NFL draft was a two-day marathon that began Saturday morning and ran late into the night as teams took their sweet time through the first three rounds.
It continued Sunday when the true slackers emerged to join ESPN in overanalyzing the selection of a punter in the sixth round.
That format brought some great times. In high school, I would weather looks of disgust by my mother as I sat in the basement doing nothing for two straight days.
The best weekend draft marathon came during my time at Northern Michigan University in a house on Arch Street.
Armed with our NMU laptops, Mel Kiper on full blast and a case of 40s from Jim's Party Store, a group of Packers fans argued for hours as California quarterback Aaron Rodgers continued to fall to No. 24 overall.
Half the room booed Ted Thompson when the selection came. The other half cheered the Packers' good fortune.
For the record to my college buddies who were there that day and are reading this now: Gas and Dewey say "We told you so."
Those days are long gone, however. Apparently I wasn't the only person who wasted a good weekend pouring over college prospects from little known colleges like Hampton, Southwest Missouri State and Lehigh because the NFL moved the first three rounds to primetime on Thursday and Friday night.
I actually did the laundry, dishes and vacuuming this weekend. With only two Stanley Cup playoff games today, I may actually have to dust my apartment, as well.
Oh, the horror!
This new draft format is probably good in the long run and I'll admit that it has not been as dreadful as I originally projected. I love how quickly the picks have come in compared to the 10-15 minutes it used to take.
From a media perspective, the separation of the first round from the later rounds allows the stories of some great kids to be told - like the firefighter turned football player, or the TCU offensive lineman battling cancer.
The coaches and general managers are allowed more time to evaluate picks and think out their draft boards - which is scary for Thompson.
From a fan perspective, we get a chance to shower.
I'd be lying if I said I haven't enjoyed the last three days of football talk - the only down moment being Philadelphia selecting Casey Matthews instead of Green Bay.
The lockout has not diminished my excitement for the 2011 NFL draft because with free agency hanging in the air due to the on-again, off-again lockout, the draft means more now than ever before.
An ESPN commercial to promote the draft featuring Packers' picks Rodgers, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, B.J. Raji, Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, A.J. Hawk and Chad Clifton with the tagline, "Where champions are built," only furthered that excitement.
It also proved a point.
Many say the NFL draft is the most overhyped event in sports, but this event was the foundation of the Green Bay Packers' fourth Vince Lombardi trophy and 13th World Championship.
It may not be the lazy holiday that it once was, but it's still a weekend of hope for many football fans.
I guess I'll go dust now ... and take that shower.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.