The NFL Draft was Thursday (and Friday, and today, but Thursday's round 1 was the true spectacle), and Thursday night I realized something: I know absolutely zero fans who are not NFL fans.

As near as I can tell, NFL fandom has reached such a critical mass that it is more or less a given among sports fans. The Vikings are as popular as every other team in the state put together; every Twins fan or Timberwolves fan or Wild fan you come across is also a Vikings fan. It's just the way of the world.

I mention this because I did not want to watch the draft on Thursday night. The NFL Draft is both interminable and boring, filled with mindless chatter and one or two moments of very mild excitement, like watching a rain delay in baseball and waiting for one of the tarp crew to slip and fall over. And frankly, when it comes to Vikings fandom, I spend three hours every Sunday in the fall in gut-wrenching agony; I prefer to use the offseason for non-Purple-related activities, if only to remind myself that I may indeed be a sane person.

But I watched. Of course I watched. I had to watch, because I work with sports fans and all of my friends and family are sports fans and I knew, come Friday, we were going to talk about the NFL Draft. It's like doing the required reading in English class.

I'm promising myself that I'm now waiting until the season starts to think about the Vikings. Except for the preseason, of course, I'll have to watch that. And I'll have to read the training camp reports. And I'm sure somebody will want to talk about minicamp. And... man, the offseason is the worst.

*On with the links:

*It's rare that a writer can define an athlete's career and change the course of it at the same time, with one article, but that's what Charlie Pierce did with his Esquire story about Tiger Woods in the spring of 1997. Grantland has the director's cut of the piece, with a bunch of added footnotes, including the fact that Pierce wrote the whole thing in two and a half hours, which is the approximate amount of time I've spent writing just this one sentence you're reading right now. Charlie Pierce is a genius and a monster.

*Brian Phillips followed the Iditarod by air, and turned out a book-length piece that is one of the great accounts of participatory sports journalism you'll find, now that George Plimpton has passed on into the great beyond.

*If you'd ask me why Mike Pelfrey has struggled, I would have offered the following scientific opinion: "He stinks out loud." Luckily, we have Parker Hageman to break it down and actually demonstrate five things that are wrong for Pelfrey right now.

*Graham Parker writes about Shrovetide Football, perhaps my favorite stupid English sports tradition this side of the Eton wall game.

*Kobe Bryant has quit tweeting during games. Sports on Earth's Will Leitch thinks that's a shame - especially since in some ways it was the apex of sports social media.

*And finally: North Carolina spring football is getting weird.

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