By Former Giant Harry Carson
The NFC East is bulking up. During the 2013 NFL Draft, my New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia eagles each took offensive linemen with their first-round pick, and then followed them up with a defensive tackle and two physical tight ends, respectively, in round two.
This is what I look for in the NFL draft. Fans and pundits alike will debate for years whether Geno Smith should have been taken in the first round, and whether any of the quarterbacks selected in the fourth round will have productive NFL careers.
But when I look at this weekend-long event, I see new chapters to the game’s best rivalries forming before our eyes. This year that meant three teams bulking up to match the division champion Redskins’ physical, dynamic rushing attack. Last year that meant two teams trading up to get a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III, and a shutdown cornerback in Morris Claiborne, who the Cowboys hope will be a thorn in Griffin’s side for the next decade.
These kinds of subplots don’t show up on draft combine reports, but its results can last decades.
This June, for instance, two dozen current and former players and coaches from the Cowboys, Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants will join me to rehash their gridiron battles on the golf course at the Rival Golf Classic. The event benefits the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation – a cause worthy enough for icons like Lawrence Taylor and Ed “Too Tall” Jones to go head-to-head like it was 1985 again.
Such an event speaks to the kind of history each NFC East team shares with the other three. It’s filled with the types of rivalries that let us imagine Griffin and Caliborne pushing each other to careers so successful that their competition means something to fans – even at a golf course 20 years after they play their last snaps.
After all, it’s the surrounding peers who help define each individual player’s career. I know football historians often compare me and Taylor to other linebackers from different eras, but it was quarterbacks like the Eagles’ Randall Cunningham, running backs like the Cowboys’ Tony Dorsett, and blockers like the Redskins’ Hogs who brought out our best.
I know first -hand that nothing is more motivating than the thought of beating a worthy opponent. Throughout history, the NFC East has been full of those. We had to bring our best when we played each other.
So, when watching this year’s draft, look beyond each prospect’s height, weight, and 40-yard-dash time. Think about what their selection could mean to an entire division. Because those are the matchups that will play out on the gridiron for the next decade. And, if we’re lucky, the golf course after that.
Harry Carson played 13 NFL seasons for the New York Giants and was elected to the pro football Hall of Fame in 2006. He played in nine Pro Bowls and was a captain of the Giants’ 1986 Super Bowl championship team. Harry is now the President and CEO of Harry Carson, Inc., the Executive Director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an advocate for concussion safety in the NFL, and the host of the Rival Golf Classic, an annual charity golf tournament which will be held June 24 in Clifton, New Jersey.