Tony walked out of the room after hearing the cheers of fans at the pick. He disregarded any shouts he heard and continued out. The temperature was nearly freezing but Tony didn't seem to care. He reached into his pocket and was pleased to find a pack of cigarettes, along with a lighter.
Everything about this was overwhelming. The pressure placed on him was overbearing and he didn't know his left from right there for a while. This dream... it felt so real. He stretched out his hand and it felt surreal as the cold bit away. This novelesque scene, a reincarnation in a body of someone he never knew. He was a diehard football fan from the day he was born, and these years early in his career were something he will always remember -- they were mementos.
He pulled out his phone and suddenly remembered this wasn't the smartphones of the future, it was an old Nokia. He tucked it away at the realization and leisurely traveled into the city. Nothing about any of this was sane. Was he meant to immediately believe he had been moved in time?
He stomped out his light and found a nearby pub. He looked amongst the crowd and most of them had their eyes locked with the multiple TVs, the draft. He eventually, found himself a seat among the fans. Unsurprisingly none of them knew who he was. He was a first-year GM on an expansion team who missed his first ever draft pick. It may be a blessing none of them knew him.
"One beer!" He cried, hoped not to be drowned out by the crowd. It took longer than usual but the beer and money were exchanged.
Tony didn't urgently begin his drink opting to listen to the roars of fans about the draft. He heard the cries about himself missing the first pick along with not picking Couch. Every person here agreed a quarterback would be a good first pick. Normally he would agree, but he didn't like McNabb for a franchise QB nor did Culpepper perform well besides the 2004 year with the Vikings. Which only occurred because of a godlike receiver, Randy Moss.
He moved to take large gulps but was bumped in back by a drunk fan. The beer spilled all over himself and ruined his suit.
He turned around in his stool and roared at the man, "Dude what are you doing! Watch where you're going next time!" He didn't listen for a reply as he untucked his shirt and swung his jacket over his shoulder.
"Another round!" He called out. His first glass was wasted and he was angry but he knew there was no gain in fitting with a drunk. The glass was brought out and as Tony went to pay he was stopped by the drunk who hit him.
"I got him this round and get me one myself, name's Aster Holland." He reached out his hand to Tony, in hopes of mending the bad beginning.
"Tony Rose." He accepted Aster's apology returning the handshake. When Aster's drink arrived the two cheers.
"You here to drink away the misery of the draft as well?" Tony queried trying to gain information about the situation he is in.
"I expect to be here every weekend." He answered with a smile.
Tony couldn't help but laugh at what the man inferred, "I as well. Without a QB how are we expected to win."
"He's too young. Making a 33-year-old General Manager is like making a ten-year-old go to college. He is bound to make mistakes, no matter how much of genius he is."
"Guess we can't hold our hopes too high for year one," Tony confirmed as he took a swig.
"Champ Bailey wasn't a bad choice though." Aster acknowledged having just finished his drink.
"He is a high 4.3 to a low 4.4 DB who can with a few tricks be a good DB. I feel he is too rough though. He needs to be mentored." Aster elaborated, he had hope but no expectations.
Tony didn't disagree, "Redskins or Dallas were likely the best places for him. Behind Deion Sanders or Darrell Green, he would learn the details of the trade. Could turn out to be a generational cover corner in such a situation."
Aster experienced a hearty laugh at Tony view, "Exactly! Glad to hear someone else talking some sense in here! A rough diamond is still a diamond."
"With the 12th overall pick in the 1999 draft, the Chicago Bears select, Akili Smith." John's voice filled the bar and Tony was left in a stupor.
"Who did the Bengals pick?"
"Tim Couch, who we were expected to pick."
"What about Washington?"
"Torry Holt, dude have you been watching at all tonight?"
"David Boston, you going to question every pick?"
"No, that was the last one." Tony finished the rest of his beer and was left to wonder how this would change things.
'Can Boston fill in for Holt? Or how Washington will do without their star DB? Damn it, how much changed because of my pick?'
He knew there would be a butterfly effect but this was out of his expectations. These are people he grew up previously watching be stars but now they will be in totally different jerseys. Without Holt, the Rams may not make the super bowl.
Tony took a deep breath and calmed himself and reminded himself he was no longer simply a fan. Here I'm a General Manager for the Browns, I shouldn't care about the butterfly effect yet. I'm not merely a fan, I'm not merely a fan.
Tony was silent for the next set of picks while others were criticizing and complaining about their pick.
"With the 22nd overall pick in the 1999 draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Lamar King." The rest of the draft was fairly calm. Tony sat around sipping his second beer as he questioned how he ended up in this situation. Evidently, he found no answers and was broken away when he felt his phone ringing in his pocket.
"Roy, where the hell are you! It is almost time for the second round!" The other end screamed.
"Isn't it tomorrow?"
"No its today! We have the first pick! Now where the hell are you!"
"I'll be back in 15 minutes. Pencil Joey Porter in as the pick."
Tony said goodbye to Aster and paid for his drink. He rushed out the bar and back to the war room. During the run, he tried to remember other teams picks from the second round going forward.
'Who went first, Mike Peterson or Joey Porter? Okay think, who did Peterson play for? Colts right? Okay and what about Porter? Steelers. So Peterson went first.'
Upon the realization he ran faster, he had told the others the wrong name. With his phone also dead now, he couldn't call them back.
Today of all day? He had to forget to charge his phone today of all days!