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What is the NFL Supplemental Draft?

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Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who had been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for NCAA rules violations, announced Tuesday that he will enter the NFL’s supplemental draft rather than return to school. Here’s a brief history of the event.

What is the supplemental draft and who is eligible for it?

The supplemental draft is a means by which underclassmen who become ineligible for the college football season after the deadline to enter the NFL’s regular draft can enter the league. To be declared eligible for the supplemental draft, a player must file a petition, which is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In Pryor’s case, while he was eligible to return from his suspension midseason, he recently forfeited his college eligibility by hiring agent Drew Rosenhaus.

The supplemental draft is held after the regular draft, which takes place in April, and before the season begins. All players must be at least three years removed from high school.

When will this year’s supplemental draft be held?

The NFL lockout had cast some doubt on whether there would even be a supplemental draft this season, but an NFL official recently told ESPN that the draft will be held in July, at least 10 days before the start of training camp, if there are eligible applicants.

How does the supplemental draft work?

The league’s 32 teams are divided into three groups based on their performance during the previous season. Teams that won six or fewer games form one group, non-playoff teams that won more than six games form a second group, and playoff teams form a third group. A lottery determines the draft order within each group and teams with worse records have a greater chance of drawing a higher pick. For example, the team with the worst record last season, Carolina, has the best chance to win the first pick in the supplemental draft and is guaranteed to pick no lower than 13th, as there were 13 teams with six or fewer wins last season.

Unlike the regular draft, during which teams announce their picks, teams submit blind bids to the NFL commissioner indicating what players they are interested in drafting in the supplemental draft. In addition, a team must indicate what round in the draft it would like to select a given player. The team that submits the highest bid is awarded the rights to the player and forfeits its pick in that round in the following season’s regular draft. If two teams submit a bid for the same player in the same round, the team with the higher pick in that round, as determined by the semi-lottery system described above, is awarded the player.

When was the first supplemental draft?

The supplemental draft was a provision of the 1977 labor agreement between the NFL and its Players Association. During the 1977 offseason, Notre Dame star running back Al Hunter was suspended from the team for being seen with a girl in his dormitory after 2 a.m. It was the second such suspension for Hunter, who had one year of eligibility remaining. While Hunter had missed the filing deadline for the regular draft, he was declared eligible to play in the NFL because his class had graduated in June. The league held its first supplemental draft that August and the Seahawks selected Hunter, forfeiting a fourth-round pick in the 1978 NFL draft. “His troubles have been grossly overplayed,” Seahawks head coach Jack Patera said of Hunter, who would rush for 715 yards and four touchdowns in his brief NFL career.

The USFL and CFL Draft of 1984

The NFL held a different sort of supplemental draft in 1984, with its teams selecting players under contract with United States Football League and Canadian Football League teams. The point of the draft was to eliminate the bidding wars that would result when a star USFL or CFL player became a free agent. The previous season, Warren Moon left the Edmonton Eskimos for the NFL and was signed by the Houston Oilers. There were some future NFL stars among the 84 players selected in the non-traditional draft. Three of the first four picks—Steve Young, Gary Zimmerman, and Reggie White—are in the Hall of Fame.

How Bernie Kosar Became a Cleveland Brown

The semi-random process for determining the supplemental draft order that is used today was developed partly in response to the controversy surrounding the supplemental draft of 1985. After leading the Miami Hurricanes to the national title in 1984, a report surfaced that Ohio native Bernie Kosar planned to turn pro. Kosar had two years of college eligibility remaining, but planned to graduate during the summer of 1985. NFL rules required that Kosar send a letter to the league indicating that he planned to graduate before the 1985 season to be eligible for the regular draft.

The Buffalo Bills held the No. 1 pick in the 1985 NFL Draft and announced they would take Virginia Tech defensive end Bruce Smith. The Minnesota Vikings traded up to the No. 2 spot with the intent of taking Kosar, who had indicated that he was hoping to be drafted by the Browns. Agent AJ Faigin helped concoct a plan to make that happen.

Faigin reportedly told Kosar’s father not to file the paperwork for the regular NFL draft and to instead have his son enter the league via the supplemental draft. The Browns traded for Buffalo’s No. 1 pick in the supplemental draft, which, at the time, was determined by the reverse order of the previous season’s standings. The Vikings protested and the Houston Oilers threatened to sue, but NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle declared that no rules had been broken.

After extending the deadline for Kosar to enter the regular draft and holding a hearing on the matter, Rozelle left the decision up to the quarterback. To no one’s surprise, he chose Cleveland.

The Boz Warns Teams Not to Draft Him

Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth was expected to be one of the first players taken in the 1987 NFL Draft after Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde. Bosworth didn’t want to play for the Indianapolis Colts or the Buffalo Bills, who held the second and third picks, so the two-time Butkus Award winner, who graduated early, entered the supplemental draft instead.

The league had adopted a lottery system for determining the supplemental draft order that year, meaning there was a chance that Indianapolis or Buffalo might be in position to draft Bosworth anyway. Bosworth tried to account for this fact by sending letters to all 28 teams in the league indicating that he would play for only five of them—the Rams, Raiders, Jets, Giants, or Eagles.

On draft day, the Seattle Seahawks, who were awarded the No. 1 pick despite 37-to-1 odds, ignored Bosworth’s warning and drafted him in the first round. Bosworth threatened to sit out the season and enter the league via the regular draft in 1988, but he eventually agreed to a then-record 10-year, $11 million rookie contract. Injuries ended Bosworth’s career after only 24 games.

Have any other good players come out of the supplemental draft?

There have been 40 players selected in the supplemental draft since 1977. Here are a few more names that you might recognize:

• Cris Carter: Pryor can only hope he finds as much success in the NFL as another former Buckeye who entered the league via the supplemental draft. Carter was suspended for his senior season after accepting money from agents, but petitioned the league to allow him to enter a special supplemental draft for players who had accepted money from agents in violation of NCAA rules. The Philadelphia Eagles took Carter in the fourth round. The draft marked the first time that the NFL allowed teams to draft players before they had graduated. Thirteen of the league’s 28 teams did not participate out of protest.

• Steve Walsh: The Cowboys selected Walsh out of the University of Miami in 1989 after the quarterback led the Hurricanes to a 32-1 record in his two seasons as the starter.

• Rob Moore: The Syracuse wideout was drafted by the New York Jets in the 1990 supplemental draft after graduating a year early but missing the deadline for the regular draft.

• Dave Brown: The Duke quarterback, who grew up rooting for the Giants, graduated a year early and opted not to return for his final year of eligibility in 1992. The Giants used a first-round pick to draft him.

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10 Regional Twists on Trick-or-Treating
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Walk around any given American neighborhood on the night of October 31, and you’ll likely hear choruses of "trick-or-treat" chiming through the area. The sing-songy phrase is synonymous with Halloween in some parts of the world, but it's not the only way kids get sweets from their neighbors this time of year. From the Philippines to the American Midwest, here are some regional door-to-door traditions you may not have heard of.

1. PANGANGALULUWA // THE PHILIPPINES

Rice cakes wrapped in leaves.
Suman

The earliest form of trick-or-treating on Halloween can be traced back to Europe in the Middle Ages. Kids would don costumes and go door-to-door offering prayers for dead relatives in exchange for snacks called "soul cakes." When the cake was eaten, tradition held that a soul was ferried from purgatory into heaven. Souling has disappeared from Ireland and the UK, but a version of it lives on halfway across the world in the Philippines. During All Saints Day on November 1, Filipino children taking part in Pangangaluluwa will visit local houses and sing hymns for alms. The songs often relate to souls in purgatory, and carolers will play the part of the souls by asking for prayers. Kids are sometimes given rice cakes called suman, a callback to the soul cakes from centuries past.

2. PÃO-POR-DEUS // PORTUGAL

Raw dough.
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Instead of trick-or-treating, kids in Portugal go door-to-door saying pão-por-deus ("bread for god") in exchange for goodies on All Saints Day. Some homeowners give out money or candy, while others offer actual baked goods.

3. HALLOWEEN APPLES // WESTERN CANADA

Kids trick-or-treating.
iStock

If they're not calling out "trick-or-treat" on their neighbors’ doorsteps on Halloween night, you may hear children in western Canada saying "Halloween apples!" The phrase is left over from a time when apples were a common Halloween treat and giving out loose items on the holiday wasn't considered taboo.

4. ST. MARTIN'S DAY // THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch wait several days after Halloween to do their own take on trick-or-treating. On the night of November 11, St. Martin's Day, children in the Netherlands take to the streets with their homemade lanterns in hand. These lanterns were traditionally carved from beets or turnips, but today they’re most commonly made from paper. And the kids who partake don’t get away with shouting a few words at each home they visit—they’re expected to sing songs to receive their sugary rewards.

5. A PENNY FOR THE GUY // THE UK

Guy Fawkes Night celebration.

Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

Guy Fawkes Night is seen by some as the English Protestants’ answer to the Catholic holidays associated with Halloween, so it makes sense that it has its own spin on trick-or-treating. November 5 marks the day of Guy Fawkes’s failed assassination attempt on King James as part of the Gunpowder Plot. To celebrate the occasion, children will tour the neighborhood asking for "a penny for the guy." Sometimes they’ll carry pictures of the would-be-assassin which are burned in the bonfires lit later at night.

6. TRICKS FOR TREATS // ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Kids knocking on a door in costume.
iStock

If kids in the St. Louis area hope to go home with a full bag of candy on Halloween, they must be willing to tickle some funny bones. Saying "tricks-for-treats" followed by a joke replaces the classic trick-or-treat mantra in this Midwestern city. There’s no criteria for the quality or the subject of the joke, but spooky material (What’s a skeleton’s favorite instrument? The trombone!) earns brownie points.

7. ME DA PARA MI CALAVERITA // MEXICO

Sugar skulls with decoration.
iStock

While Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is completely separate from Halloween, the two holidays share a few things in common. Mexicans celebrate the day by dressing up, eating sweet treats, and in some parts of the country, going house-to-house. Children knocking on doors will say "me da para mi calaverita" or "give me money for my little skull," a reference to the decorated sugar skulls sold in markets at this time of year.

8. HALLOWEEN! // QUEBEC, CANADA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
iStock

Trick-or-treaters like to keep things simple in the Canadian province of Quebec. In place of the alliterative exclamation, they shout “Halloween!” at each home they visit. Adults local to the area might remember saying "la charité s’il-vous-plaît "(French for “charity, please”) when going door-to-door on Halloween, but this saying has largely fallen out of fashion.

9. SWEET OR SOUR // GERMANY

Little girl trick-or-treating.
iStock

Halloween is only just beginning to gain popularity in Germany. Where it is celebrated, the holiday looks a lot like it does in America, but Germans have managed to inject some local character into their version of trick-or-treat. In exchange for candy, kids sometimes sing out "süß oder saures"—or "sweet and sour" in English.

10. TRIQUI, TRIQUI HALLOWEEN // COLOMBIA

Kids dressed up for Halloween.
Rubí Flórez, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Kids in Colombia anticipate dressing up and prowling the streets on Halloween just as much as kids do in the States. There are a few significant variations on the annual tradition: Instead of visiting private residencies, they're more likely to ask for candy from store owners and the security guards of apartment buildings. And instead of saying trick-or-treat, they recite this Spanish rhyme:

Triqui triqui Halloween
Quiero dulces para mí
Si no hay dulces para mí
Se le crece la naríz

In short, it means that if the grownups don't give the kids the candy they're asking for, their noses will grow. Tricky, tricky indeed

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Hey, Vern: It's the Ernest P. Worrell Story
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In her review of the 1991 children’s comedy Ernest Scared Stupid, The Washington Post film critic Rita Kempley described the titular character, the dim-witted but well-meaning Ernest P. Worrell, as “the global village idiot.” As portrayed by Kentucky native Jim Varney, Ernest was in the middle of a 10-film franchise that would see him mistakenly incarcerated (Ernest Goes to Jail), enlisting in the military (Ernest in the Army), substituting for an injured Santa (Ernest Saves Christmas), and returning to formal education in order to receive his high school diploma (Ernest Goes to School).

Unlike slapstick contemporaries Yahoo Serious and Pauly Shore, Varney took a far more unusual route to film stardom. With advertising executive John Cherry III, Varney originated the Ernest character in a series of regional television commercials. By one estimate, Ernest appeared in over 6000 spots, hawking everything from ice cream to used cars. They grew so popular that the pitchman had a 20,000-member fan club before his first movie, 1987’s Ernest Goes to Camp, was even released.

Varney and Ernest became synonymous, so much so that the actor would dread going on dates for fear Ernest fans would approach him; he sometimes wore disguises to discourage recognition. Though he could recite Shakespeare on a whim, Varney was rarely afforded the opportunity to expand his resume beyond the denim-jacketed character. It was for this reason that Varney, though grateful for Ernest’s popularity, would sometimes describe his notoriety as a “mixed blessing,” one that would come to a poignant end foreshadowed by one of his earliest commercials.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1949, Varney spent his youth being reprimanded by teachers who thought his interest in theater shouldn’t replace attention paid to math or science. Varney disagreed, leaving high school just two weeks shy of graduation (he returned in the fall for his diploma) to head for New York with $65 in cash and a plan to perform.

The off-Broadway plays Varney appeared in were not lucrative, and he began to bounce back and forth between Kentucky and California, driving a truck when times were lean and appearing in TV shows like Petticoat Junction when his luck improved. During one of his sabbaticals from Hollywood, he met Cherry, who cast him as an aggressive military instructor named Sergeant Glory in an ad for a car dealer in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1981, Varney was asked back to film a new spot for Cherry, this one for a dilapidated amusement park in Bowling Green, Kentucky, that Cherry considered so unimpressive he didn’t want to show it on camera. Instead, he created the character of Ernest P. Worrell, a fast-talking, often imbecilic local who is constantly harassing his neighbor Vern. (“Know what I mean, Vern?” became Ernest’s catchphrase.)

The spot was a hit, and soon Varney and Cherry were being asked to film spots for Purity Dairies, pizza parlors, convenience stores, and other local businesses. In the spots, Ernest would usually look into the camera—the audience shared Vern’s point of view—and endorse whatever business had enlisted his services, usually stopping only when Vern devised a way to get him out of sight.

Although the Purity commercials initially drew complaints—the wide-angle lens created a looming Ernest that scared some children—his fame grew, and Varney became a rarity in the ad business: a mascot without a permanent corporate home. He and Cherry would film up to 26 spots in a day, all targeted for a specific region of the country. In some areas, people would call television stations asking when the next Ernest spot was due to air. A Fairfax, Virginia Toyota dealership saw a 50 percent spike in sales after Varney began appearing in ads.

Logging thousands of spots in hundreds of markets, Varney once said that if they had all been national, he and Cherry would have been wealthy beyond belief. But local spots had local budgets, and the occasions where Ernest was recruited for a major campaign were sometimes prohibited by exclusivity contracts: He and Cherry had to turn down Chevrolet due to agreements with local, competing car dealers.

Still, Varney made enough to buy a 10-acre home in Kentucky, expressing satisfaction with the reception of the Ernest character and happily agreeing to a four-picture deal with Disney’s Touchstone Pictures for a series of Ernest features. Released on a near-constant basis between 1987 and 1998, the films were modest hits (Ernest Goes to Camp made $28 million) before Cherry—who directed several of them—and Varney decided to strike out on their own, settling into a direct-to-video distribution model.

“It's like Oz, and the Wizard ain't home," Varney told the Sun Sentinel in 1985, anticipating his desire for autonomy. “Hollywood is a place where everything begins but nothing originates. It's this big bunch of egos slamming into each other.”

Varney was sometimes reticent to admit he had ambitions beyond Ernest, believing his love of Shakespeare and desire to perform Hamlet would be perceived as the cliched story of a clown longing to be serious. He appeared in 1994’s The Beverly Hillbillies and as the voice of Slinky Dog in 1995’s Toy Story. But Ernest would continue to be his trademark.

The movies continued through 1998, at which point Varney noticed a nagging cough. It turned out to be lung cancer. As Ernest, Varney had filmed an anti-smoking public service announcement in the 1980s. In his private life, he was a chain smoker. He succumbed to cancer in 2000 at the age of 50, halting a series of planned Ernest projects that included Ernest Goes to Space and Ernest and the Voodoo Curse.

Varney may never have gotten an opportunity to perform in a wider variety of roles, but he did receive some acknowledgment for the one he had mastered. In 1989, Varney took home an Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a children’s series, a CBS Saturday morning show titled Hey, Vern: It’s Ernest!

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” he told the Orlando Sentinel in 1991, “because it's as hard to escape from it as it is to get into it.''

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