DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Chandler Harnish #12 of the Northern Illinois Huskies motions to his school fans during pre-game warm ups before the start of the MAC Championship game against the Ohio Bobcats at Ford Field on December 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Huskies defeated the Bobcats 23-20. (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)
I received a tweet from @bkharnish (aka Brandon Harnish) on Saturday, inviting me to watch a YouTube video if Northern Illinois Chandler Harnish reacting to the . Now, I have no idea if Brandon is related to Chandler (I assume he is), but the video he sent was indeed one featuring a guy who is either a clone of or actually is Chandler Harnish reacting to his name being called on television. selecting him with the 253rd and final pick in the 2012 NFL Draft
For cynical guys like me, the draft is a long, involved story that requires a lot of time and energy to cover. Often, I lose sight of the fact that, for some most of these kids, it's a dream to get drafted. So, when you watch the video, it's neat to see Harnish and his family reacting. Doesn't matter that he's the last pick. He's just a happy guy.
Part of the reason Harnish is so happy here is that it seems that, prior to the Colts picking, there was actually a bidding war going on for his services if he did not get picked.
In a video of comments from Chandler Harnish a/k/a Mr. Irrelevant that has been posted on YouTube, the former Northern Illinois quarterback says that, as the draft was winding down, he was being pressured by the Chargers to commit to signing with them once the draft ended — and that Harnish’s plan to sign him as a free agent forced the Colts to use the last pick in the draft to get him.
"I was getting calls from like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tennessee Titans, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, just a bunch of teams were — and I’m talking to my agent every three minutes," Harnish explains. "It looked like we were about ready to set up a free agency deal. I was ready to go to San Diego . . . .
"They wanted the decision 10 minutes after they could put the deal on the table, and this was still at pick 240," Harnish says. "So there were still 13 picks to go. And they put the deal on the table that they wanted me to be a free agent and I had to say ‘yes’ to it. . . . We tell San Diego we want that deal. Well, my agent tells the Colts, ‘Hey, he’s going to San Diego if you don’t draft him with your last pick.’ So because of that the Colts were like, ‘We want him. We want to take him before he goes to free agency, and then he goes to San Diego.’"That’s as close to a team getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar as we’ll ever see, short of having the team admit to negotiating with a player before the draft ends.
The video that PFT links to has been taken off YouTube, for obvious reasons. Per league rules, before and during the drafting process, there can be contact and expressions of interest, but no contract negotiations (a.k.a., no dollar talk). The worst kept secret is negotiations happen as early as the fifth round, and maybe even earlier, with players and teams. In the case of Harnish, that's apparently what was happening.
However, it all came to a screeching halt when the Colts drafted Harnish, making him and his agent very happy. Players get more money when they are drafted as opposed to those who are signed to rookie free agent contracts.
After the Harnish pick came in at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, I walked past former NFL general manager and current SIRIUS radio analyst Gil Brandt. He was looking up at the screen displaying the final pick of the 2012 draft and he said, "That Harnish kid is a good player."
Here's some video of Harnish playing, if you're interested: