Eli Manning

Criticize the league's three-day broadcast if you want, but the NFL Draft does have its moments of intrigue. Usually, that comes in the form of controversial picks or unsatisfied players, such as when the Oakland Raiders used a first-round pick on a kicker, or when the San Diego Chargers drafted Eli Manning against his will.

But the list of draft oddities doesn't end there. Sometimes teams do truly bizarre things that don't just fly in the face of convention -- they leave everyone scratching their heads. And time doesn't always bring perspective, either: You can go back 60 years and find surprising tales of NFL Draft weirdness that still don't make any sense.

That's what we did. Here are seven of the weirdest NFL Draft stories you'll ever hear.

Oakland Drafts BYU Player Who Refuses To Play On Sundays

Al Davis

What would this list be without an appearance by the Raiders? Back in the mid-1990s, Eli Herring was a dominant offensive lineman for BYU. So dominant, in fact, that scouts projected him as a first-round draft pick. But as a devout Mormon, Herring made a difficult choice: He adhered to his religion's calling to not work on Sundays.

So Herring told the NFL he wouldn't be pursuing a professional career. But that didn't dissuade Oakland, which used a sixth-round pick on him in 1995. A Raiders executive flew out to Utah to try and persuade Herring with a three-year, $1.5 million contract, but he turned it down to take a high school teaching job.

Was it worth a try? Maybe. But Oakland still took a ton of grief for the gamble.

Minnesota Forgets To Makes Its Pick

Byron Leftwich

In 2003, Minnesota had the seventh overall pick. And what did the Vikings do with that pick? Well, nothing -- they let the time on their draft clock lapse. Jacksonville wasted no time: Picking eighth, the Jaguars were given a shot to leapfrog Minnesota, and they did so by drafting quarterback Byron Leftwich.

Slotted ninth overall, Carolina quickly jumped to action, too, sprinting to draft offensive tackle Jordon Gross before the Vikings re-claimed their turn. Finally, Minnesota jumped in after Carolina and grabbed defensive lineman Kevin Williams, but the damage had been done.

Allegedly, the Vikings had been caught up in trade talks involving the pick. But no trade materialized -- and instead, the team wound up with an all-time draft blunder.

"I'm pissed," said Vikings coach Mike Tice at the time. "There is no other way I can put it."

Eagles Fans Give McNabb A Rude Welcome

Donovan McNabb, Paul Tagliabue

Like a fine wine, this story gets better and better over time. In 1999, the Eagles had a choice between two high-profile prospects: Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb or Texas running back -- and Heisman Trophy winner -- Ricky Williams.

Eagles fans overwhelmingly wanted Williams. They got McNabb. And then this happened.

Of course, time proved McNabb the right choice: He led Philly to four straight NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance, won an MVP award, and was one of the league's top quarterbacks for much of his prime. Ricky Williams, meanwhile, disappointed in New Orleans and left football for a time to smoke weed and practice yoga.

Nice one, Eagles fans. You really nailed that prediction.

Two Teams Fight To Draft Mr. Irrelevant


The inglorious tradition of the NFL Draft's "Mr. Irrelevant" began in 1976. Shortly thereafter, the unofficial Lowsman Trophy was established to celebrate the league's final pick of the draft each year. And in 1979, two teams wanted to draft Mr. Irrelevant badly. The Pittsburgh Steelers had the final pick, but the Los Angeles Rams wanted the attention, so they passed on their pick to let the Steelers go ahead.

But no, Pittsburgh wouldn't give up that distinction. So the Steelers passed, and back it went to the Rams. The back-and-forth continued for far too long until the Rams finally made their pick. The Steelers wound up choosing Mike Almond, who wound up getting cut during the summer. He never played in the NFL.

Still, it was worth the hassle.

Washington Drafts Ineligible Player -- Twice

1946 Washington

In 1946, the Redskins wanted to draft UCLA running back/cornerback Cal Rossi real bad. The team's management had been tipped off by a local sportswriter who had praised Rossi in a column, and so the team decided that would be their pick.

But there was a problem: Rossi was a junior, and non-seniors were ineligible for the NFL Draft at the time. So Washington moved on -- until the next year, when Rossi was a senior and available with the team's first-round pick.

So Washington finally drafted Rossi! ... Only to find out that Rossi was foregoing the NFL and had already signed up with the Navy. Two straight years, two ineligible picks, and the Redskins never did get Rossi into a uniform. If only they had -- how the fate of that franchise might be different today ...

Dontari Poe Shares A Moment With Roger

Dontari Poe

Donatari Poe is a great defensive lineman for Kansas City, but his NFL career began on a rather embarrassing note. When he was called up by Roger Goodell as the 11th overall pick, Poe didn't just shake the commissioner's hand: He wrapped him in a bear hug and threatened to never let him go.

Then, as they finally released from the hug, Poe got right up in Goodell's face -- they even brushed noses. It happens quickly in the video, but Goodell's discomfort is unmistakable:

Fitting that his position with the Chiefs is nose tackle.

Atlanta Drafts John Wayne

John Wayne

In 1972, the league had a deep-running draft that not every team was thrilled about. So when the Atlanta Falcons were due up in the 17th round, they took the best prospect they saw on the board: John Wayne himself.

The entire thing was a fine dramatic work on its own. Norm Van Brocklin, the Falcons coach at the time, stood up and yelled, "Do we want the roughest, toughest S.O.B. in the draft?" And when cheers confirmed this desire, the team drafted "John Wayne of Fort Apache State."

The pick was disallowed, but the story lives in infamy. Hey, when the talent runs dry, might as well try to have a little fun.

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