"Cleveland is now on the Clock!" The timer ticked down as shouts echoed throughout the room. 10:00, 9:59… it was all in slow motion.
"Call T-" A man ordered before he tripped over his own feet and slammed his head into the desk beside him. The people flood towards him to check if he was alive. They all released a sigh of relief when they found a pulse and heard breathing.
Tony was at a loss, 'Where am I? What is today? Isn't today Super Bowl 52? Damn it where am I!' This isn't where he was supposed to be. He was supposed to be getting drunk with his ex-girlfriend and having hate sex. Not in a room filled with old men who were double his age. He stood up from the ground and rubbed his now throbbing head.
"Roy there is only 8 minutes left! What is our choice?" A man shouted louder than the rest as he rushed Tony, now Roy. Tony didn't respond still trying to understand how he got in this situation. Not even noticing that a man before he was grabbed roughly by the shoulders.
"Roy! We know you hit your head but we need our pick! Tim Couch, right? We had been studying him for the past four months and have agreed on him, but we need to check with you first!" The man continued.
"What is today?" Roy asked, his eyes darting around the room.
"What are you talking about! Today is April 17, 1999! Now, what's our pick?" The man continued to look off at the clock and watched it second by second tick away.
Tony was at a loss, none of this made sense. It was only seconds ago, February 4, 2018. The Eagles were about to play the Patriots and he was getting the alcohol ready. How did he end up here?
Did he pregame too hard? No, he was only four shots in, an average before going off to parties. The clock had now ticked down to 7:00.
"ROY! Snap out of it!" The same man shouted again.
Maybe this is all a dream, he could have only passed out. That does in a way make sense for this. He doesn't remember tripping but maybe he hit his head after pregaming. He shook off the worried shouting man and walked around the room. This was all too foreign to him, he had done fantasy drafts before but never thought he would be in one.
'1999? Who was a part of this draft?' "Get me the list of the top 10 projected picks!" Tony shouted, he needed a refresher, the draft was too long ago. He could only hope there would be names he remembered from his time. Everyone in the room was in shock but didn't disagree or dally, there was no time for that.
An intern rushed back in and handed Tony a paper with the ten projected picks, "Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Akili Smith, Ricky Williams, Champ Bailey, Edgerrin James, Chris McAlister, Torry Holt, Chris Claiborne, and Daunte Culpepper."
Tony had to dig deep in his mind as he thought over all the players on this list. He knew four of them immediately. 'McNabb was a good QB who choked away too many games. Williams a good RB who never lived up to the hype, James was much better in every way. Bailey, one of the best CB ever.'
Damn it! The real thing is so much different than the drafts he did every year.
There is also Torry Holt! Damn it, the greatest show on turf. Tony was losing it, this whole situation was too much for him.
"Roy! Are we getting Tim Couch or not! We don't have time for this!"
Roy snapped out of his stupor and immediately replied to the angry coach, "No we aren't! Let me think."
"You don't have time to think! We have to call in our pick before we are skipped over, damn it!"
Roy stopped and tried once more to take every bit in. He felt small in comparison to everything around him. The screens, the voices, the people, yet here he was – a fan. This was a place he dreamed of, a place he chased. He stood with feet rooted in place stunned in awe.
The time ticked away and the shouts of everyone in the room were deafening. Roy was too stunned to answer any of them. The timer ticked away and just like that Roy's first pick was a pass. He raised the volume on the TV and listened to the commenters.
"Roy's first year as GM and he didn't make his pick. He won't last long with such actions."
"There never an excuse for not picking. If you want a later pick trade yours away, don't pass."
The comments were exactly to his expectations and with the booing in the background, nothing was shocking.
The Eagles were now on the Clock and Tony knew they would pick McNabb. He smiled at the memory of booing when the pick was made. Then booing even louder at his performance in the Super Bowl. These happy memories were enough to slow Tony down enough for him to collect his thoughts on the situation. This may to him be a dream but to everyone else, this is their job, their lively hood.
The Eagles didn't take long to make their pick and within those less than five minutes Tony returned to the War room.
The timer was ticking once more and the others were furious with him.
"What are you thinking!"
"Why not Tim Couch?"
"Who are we picking instead?"
"Tell us something!"
Roy had collected his thoughts before he entered but at being bombarded with questions it quickly left his head. The panic returned, and he couldn't stay composed.
"I don't know!" He bellowed. The room suddenly became silent at his plea.
"I don't know what to tell everyone here. I made a mistake for not making a choice; I just know Tim was the wrong choice for us."
"Who do you suggest instead then?"
"Bailey." Was his short and simple reply to everyone. It was obvious to tell no one had any confidence in him after he didn't make a pick. As of this second, they were in no place to fight with him though.
"Why not Tim?" One staffer called out while the rest remained silent.
Tony looked back to the TV screen replaying Tim's highlights, "Our OL, we don't have anyone to protect him the pocket. Along with no helpers to work along with him. Holt would be a good choice as well but without a decent QB to work with him, his worth won't be there. So, since our offense is static; I decided working on defense would be the better choice for this draft and the offense next year."
Not everyone was convinced but they did take notice he did seem more confident than he was previously. Without further argument, they made the call and informed Bailey of their decision. Along with sending their pick to the workers in New York to bring it to the commissioner.
The TV was unmuted and throughout the previously silent room, the voice of Paul John Tagliabue echoed, "With the second pick in the 1999 draft the Cleveland Browns select… Champ Bailey."
A whole new world had been opened up from that single moment. All the stress he incurred was lifted at that moment. With a sigh of relief, he then remembered, this was only day one.