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The first round of the pro football draft was held last night in New York's Radio City Music Hall. The top two picks, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, are two of the most highly regarded quarterbacks to enter the NFL in years. And their selection was only the start. NPR's Mike Pesca has more.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Thursday was a great sports night for New Yorkers. The Mets had already won a day game in the bottom of the ninth. The Knicks were playing the last game of their season, their best season in over a decade. The Devils were in a deciding game seven of their NHL playoff series - they managed to win in double overtime - and the Rangers were also victorious in their own game seven.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Rangers trying to play it on back. And they do. Here's Stepan. And across. Scores!
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PESCA: NBC Sports with the call. But for all the action on skates, spikes or in high tops, it was the men wearing oxfords and loafers who ran away with most of the attention. The National Football League draft, held in Radio City Music Hall, isn't a game, though the selection of college players usually has drama and uncertainty.
Usually. The Indianapolis Colts confirmed their intentions a week ago. Some off-Broadway plays don't have as much rehearsal time as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did to deliver this line.
ROGER GOODELL: With the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Andrew Luck, quarterback, Stanford.
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PESCA: Luck's a phenomenal talent with the assured manner you'd expect from a worldly Stanford architect. In fact, in a press conference he threatened to undo the draft's careful architecture of endlessly comparing newcomers to established stars.
ANDREW LUCK: Try not to get caught up too much in comparing yourself to other guys, because at the end of the day, you know, you're either going to devalue yourself in your mind, devalue someone. You know, realize everybody's different. Everybody goes into different situations. Just try to do the best you can. And I know that's terribly cliche, but...
PESCA: But it's practically unthinkable for a pro athlete to acknowledge and decry a cliche. They usually take up residence in the cliche's nurturing embrace. Luck's poise is almost as eye-opening as anything he can do with this right arm.
It's the legs of Robert Griffin III that elevate him to elite status. The Heisman trophy winner is known for his athleticism, great arm, and his habit of wearing unusual socks. Thursday's pair came with this message.
ROBERT GRIFFIN III: Go catch your dream. It's just telling people, you know, sometimes a sock can go a long way. Everywhere I go, somewhere they're like, hey, Rob, what socks you wearing? So I knew it would happen and I wanted to just get that message out there.
PESCA: The Redskins made a big trade weeks ago to get Griffin. They were the first of a half dozen teams to trade up in the early part of this draft. The Browns, drafting third, took running back Trent Richardson - the first of four Alabama players taken Thursday.
And every draft has the polarizing player, who some see as savior, others as substandard. This year it was Ryan Tannehill, the Texas A&M quarterback, who gurus like the aggressively coiffed Mel Kiper cast their doubts on.
MEL KIPER: Game management's an issue, forces the ball under coverage, questionable read, too many ill-advised throws. What he's got to do, hey, throw the ball away.
PESCA: Is this guy a top 10 overall pick or the last player on the bench? The Dolphins thought he was worth the 8th pick. It is looking unlikely that any of these players selected will appear in a Pro Bowl. That's because news reports say the NFL is considering suspending its end-of-year all-star game. That coronation of the game's best players, based on watching them actually play over a 16-game season, is somehow less captivating than this festival of hats, handshakes and hope. Draft rounds two and three take place tonight.
Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.