A Comprehensive History of George R.R. Martin’s NFL Draft Takes

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin loves football. But does his NFL Draft commentary elicit A Dream of Spring or more Winds of Winter?

George R.R. Martin in a Jets hat
Photo: George R.R. Martin | Not a Blog

Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin loves three things above all else: writing exhaustive descriptions of feasts, killing Starks, and watching NFL football.

When the “A Song of Ice and Fire” creator is not writing the most impactful bit of fantasy storytelling since The Lord of the Rings, he follows his two favorite football teams: the New York Giants and the New York Jets (yes, supporting two teams in the same city is highly unusual and yes, he’s apparently fine with it). 

Martin is fond of expounding upon his fandom in interviews (including this one with ex-NFL defensive end Chris Long) and also documenting his sports pain on his LiveJournal blog, “Not a Blog”. The Westeros story shepherd has been blogging steadily since pretty much the dawn of blogging in 2006. And over the past 15 years, he has marked 235 posts with the “NFL” tag. 

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Martin is using a blog the way blogs were intended to be used – providing professional updates with some informal sports observations sprinkled in. But I’ve personally never been able to get over the novelty of one of pop culture’s most important, sagacious figures, jotting down his ill-conceived sports takes just like the rest of us weirdos. I mean, get a load of this (which is baseball-related, not football):

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Mets! Jets! Mets! blog post screenshot from George R. R. Martin's LiveJournal

Grown men wishing to bear the child of their favorite professional athlete is the sort of thing usually left to fringe sports talk radio shows or drunk group text chats. And yet, here is the writer of A Feast For Crows’ genius “broken man” monologue just throwing it out there for public consumption. 

It’s like finding out that J.R.R. Tolkien used to submit his sports takes to The Times in the 1940s. “Yes, Stanley Matthews is talented but I fear his training regimen too rigorous for him to maintain the proper energy for the Three Lions to overcome France this year.”

Sadly, we do not have Tolkien’s football takes (apparently rugby was more his speed anyway). Since we do have Martin’s though, it’s worth examining how his many NFL opinions and predictions have held up over the years, particularly his commentary surrounding the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft, in which NFL teams select college players to augment their rosters, occurs every year near the end of April or beginning of May. Martin, bless him, frequently likes to record his thoughts on the Jets and Giants’ draft during or after the event. Of the 235 NFL posts on NotaBlog, at least 12 of them deal with the draft. 

This year’s NFL Draft begins on April 29. A GRRM post about it is sure to come soon after (unless The Winds of Winter is taking up too much of his time). Before George offers his thoughts on this year’s selections, let’s take a trip back through memory lane to grade some of his previous years’ takes. 

Bear in mind, that this list of Martin’s draft takes isn’t truly exhaustive. His blog for the 2020 draft, for instance, doesn’t include too many spicy opinions so it’s left out. But should you want the entire list of George R.R. Martin’s sports musings, I know a guy who wasted countless hours compiling all 235 posts.

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George R.R. Martin’s NFL Draft Takes

The Post: April 26, 2019 – Day One
The Takes: 

  • The Jets should have selected defensive end Josh Allen over defensive tackle Quinnen Williams
  • Daniel Jones at 6 was an overdraft from the Giants. They should have chosen Dwayne Haskins

Analysis: It’s probably too early to tell on George’s first prediction though Williams looks to be the slightly better player now. George’s second take, however, is way off. Not because Giants QB Daniel Jones has been particularly great but George’s preferred QB Dwayne Haskins had a disastrous tenure in Washington, getting released midway through his second season.
Cumulative Take Score: 0 for 2 (0%)

The Post: April 7, 2018 – Feeling a Draft
The Takes:

  • The Giants should take Saquon Barkley
  • The Jets should take Baker Mayfield

Analysis: One of George’s most charming sports quirks is an avowed love of running backs. The running back position isn’t as important in the modern NFL as offenses become more pass heavy. The Giants drafting running back Saquon Barkley was very defensible though and hopefully he will recover from the knee injury that wiped out his 2020 season. George was also dead-on in urging the Jets to take Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for yours truly) the Browns took Mayfield with the first overall pick. The Jets took Sam Darnold as a consolation prize and he is already no longer on the team.
Cumulative Take Score: 2 for 4 (50%)

The Post: April 29, 2016 – NFL Draft Round One
The Takes: 

  • The Jets did well in taking linebacker Darron Lee over Memphis QB Paxton Lynch
  • The Giants should have picked pass rusher Shaq Lawson
  • Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry will be good.

Analysis: George sniffed out Paxton Lynch’s futility like a Lannister plot. Darron Lee was pretty much a bust but at least he wasn’t Paxton Lynch. The Giants should not have chosen Shaq Lawson – their Eli Apple pick worked out perfectly fine. Here, George once again reveals his great taste in running backs. Though the position may no longer be as important, GRRM is one hell of a RB talent evaluator. Zeke Elliott and Derrick Henry are among the best backs in the league.
Cumulative Take Score: 4 for 7 (57%)

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The Post: April 27, 2013 – NFL Draft, Day 3
The Takes:

  • Ryan Nassib is Eli Manning’s successor
  • Taking Geno Smith will set the Jets back years.

Analysis: Ryan Nassib was not Eli Manning’s successor. Who’s to say if Geno Smith set the Jets back years or if they are just a poorly run organization? Either way, we’ll give that one to George since the team has had only one winning season since picking him.
Cumulative Take Score: 5 for 9 (56%)

The Post: April 27, 2012 – NFL Draft, Round One
The Takes:

  • “I am not at all happy with (the Jets) choice of Quinton Couples (sic).”
  • Cleveland had a good first round.
  • Ryan Tannehill will be a bust. 

Analysis: George was right to be upset with the Coples pick. Unfortunately, George erred severely in trusting the Cleveland Browns to draft well. He undoubtedly was excited about the Browns drafting one of his beloved running backs, but that running back, Trent Richardson, was out of the league within a few years. George’s Ryan Tannehil prediction looked prescient for the first half of his career. Now – not so much, with the QB turning his career around in Tennessee.
Cumulative Take Score: 6 for 12 (50%)

The Post: April 25, 2009 – NFL Draft, Day 1
The Takes:

  • The Jets and Giants were right to not draft Percy Harvin.
  • Kenny Britt is the best receiver among himself, Hakeem Nicks, and Brian Robiskie

Analysis: The Harvin concerns were understandable but he had a pretty decent career, all things considered. Hakeem Nicks was better than Kenny Britt. George was surely happy to be wrong though as Nicks is who the Giants drafted.
Cumulative Take Score: 6 for 14 (43%)

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The Post: April 28, 2007 – NFL Draft, Day One
The Takes:

  • The Jets had a better day than the Giants
  • Brady Quinn will have a better pro career than JaMarcus Russell

Analysis: George nailed prediction one. The Jets drafted Darrelle Revis, who ended up being one of the best players in franchise history. George also nailed prediction number two but that’s because just about every other player in football history had a better pro career than JaMarcus Russell.
Cumulative Take Score: 8 for 16 (50%)

The Post: February 5, 2006 – Super Bowl XL
The Takes: 

  • The Jets should draft D’Brickashaw Ferguson
  • “So another NFL season is now done, which means that Sunday becomes a work day for me once again. That should please everyone waiting for A DANCE WITH DRAGONS.”

Analysis: George’s first take here was absolutely correct. Ferguson was a Jets stalwart for a decade. Of course, I couldn’t help but share that second, non-football prediction. It turns out the people were not pleased as A Dance With Dragons would not arrive for another five years. 
Cumulative Take Score: 9 for 17 (53%)

Bonus George R.R. Martin NFL Takes

And now, a few other George R.R. Martin NFL Takes that have nothing to do with the draft…

The Post: September 1, 2017 – The NFL Is Coming
The Take: “I have the feeling that I am going to be starting a lot of blog posts with ‘Life is miserable and full of pain’ this fall, at least where the Jets are concerned.”
Analysis: Yup.

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The Post: January 15, 2015 Locker Room Shuffle
The Take: “(Rex) Ryan’s opening press conference with the Bills was very impressive. He seemed to be the old Rex again, brimming with confidence and swagger, all leavened with a healthy sense of humor. He promised to make the Bills a “bully,” a team that no one will want to play. I believe him.”
Analysis: Of all the Jets coaches in Not A Blog history, Rex Ryan might be Martin’s favorite. He believes (pretty accurately) that Ryan did not get a fair shake in New York. But things in Buffalo did not pan out well for Ryan either. He was fired after two seasons and a 15-16 record.

The Post: March 15, 2013 – Free Agency Follies
The Take: “Oh, and the Patriots… what a vile thing is Evil Little Bill (Belichick). The way he treated Wes Welker is disgraceful. Man has absolutely no loyalty to anyone. Watch and see, when Tom Brady’s talents start to fade — and they will, it happens to all of them — Evil Little Bill will ship him out as well.”
Analysis: I don’t doubt that George was right that Bill Belichick would send Tom Brady packing the moment his talents start to fade. Where George erred, however, is that Tom Brady’s talents are never going to fade. He will never retire or even die. Brady left Belichick and New England in 2020 of his own volition…and promptly won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay.

Jets or Giants: Which Team Makes GRRM More Miserable?

Indulge me on one last bit of George R.R. Martin NFL nonsense. Occasionally, Martin will begin or end one of his football-related blog posts with the phrase “Life is meaningless and full of pain” (sometimes, he swaps “miserable” for “meaningless”).  

This is a notion that many sports fans should know quite well. Following a professional football team is mostly a never-ending series of woe and disappointment. And since Martin supports two NFL teams, he gets to experience twice the level of disappointment. But which New York football franchise causes George more pain? To find out, I tracked every “Not A Blog” post that contains the phrase “life is meaningless/miserable and full of pain” and figured out which team was making his life miserable. More often than not, it was both teams, but occasionally only one team was the culprit. The finally tally is:

  • New York Giants = 25 blog posts mentioning “life is meaningless and full of pain.”
  • New York Jets = 23 blog posts mentioning “life is meaningless and full of pain.”

This is a fairly surprising result given that the Giants have actually won two Super Bowls in the time since Martin has been blogging. But it turns out that pain cuts deeper than victory.