Twilight of the running back

Denver Broncos: The Broncos should have drafted Mystique from the X-Men movies (the next one is about time travel, which means Bryan Singer is getting desperate for material). She could transform into Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and other Seattle defenders at Denver practices, keeping the team angry for payback.

Green Bay Packers: Alabama had two players chosen in the first round, including Ha Ha Clinton-Dix by the Packers. This was more evidence of Nick Saban's magic touch with the draft -- 16 first-round picks from the Crimson Tide in the past six years, best of any college program. And wasn't it thoughtful of Saban to come to New York City and be present to congratulate his players as they walked across the stage!

Most likely Saban's first motive was self-promotion. He recruits by marketing Alabama as a way station to the NFL. About 25 percent of Saban's recruited Alabama players have gone on to earn at least some NFL income, a very high rate. But that still leaves three-quarters never cashing a pro football paycheck. If they got an Alabama education and graduated, they received something of value in return for their labors. But about a quarter of Saban's players neither graduate nor perform in the NFL. They're exploited, then thrown away.

Saban earns about $70,000 per year per scholarship player under his care. Being present onstage at the NFL draft was fantastic advertising for the recruiting program that supports his fabulous pay. The starry-eyed teens who arrive at the University of Alabama to play for free all believe they'll become NFL stars. The majority will not, but Saban's payday depends on maintaining that illusion.

Into thy closet: Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that prayer may be used to open public meetings. The court's majority called public prayer a tradition that is "long followed," which surely is true, though tradition seems a shaky constitutional defense -- segregation was once "long followed," too. The court further said public prayer need not be nonsectarian: rather it can invoke Christian language, so long as for "universal themes" such a "spirit of cooperation."

Many commentators have noted the Establishment Clause -- "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" -- does not require that government shun religion, only that no faith be mandated. In this interpretation, public prayer seems OK so long as those present are free to decline to participate. Christians tend to like this view because they are confident the prayers will sound Christian. How would the country's Christian majority feel about you're-free-not-to-participate opening prayers at public meetings if the prayers were Islamic? Outraged, would be my guess. If anyone's faith -- Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Zoroastrian -- is so weak that it must be reinforced by hollow public recitations of prayer by politicians, then woe onto all believers.

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