SBD/Issue 152/Sports Media

ESPN, NFL Net Draft Coverage Gives Sneak Preview Of Selections

Viewers Of ESPN, NFL Network Saw Draftees
Celebrating Before Goodell's Announcements
Due to reporting and "cameras pointed at players wherever they are -- ESPN alone had 19 remotes Saturday" -- viewers of NFL Draft coverage on both ESPN and NFL Network "saw draftees with cellphones celebrating before getting official word," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. After a shot of OT Andre Smith "showed he already knew the Cincinnati Bengals would make him their first-round pick," ESPN's Chris Berman said, "These guys can't keep a secret. And why should they?" (USA TODAY, 4/27). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted ESPN viewers saw DT B.J. Raji "with a cell phone connected to his left ear, surrounded by family and friends," and at some point Raji "told his brood news that made them leap out of their seats." The Packers selected Raji with the No. 9 pick in the first round, and viewers "got the news of the selection a good 5 minutes before Commissioner Roger Goodell called out Raji's name" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 4/26). In Albany, Pete Dougherty noted ESPN had cameras "on so many first-round draft choices, any shot of one talking on his cell phone means that he is about to be selected." Dougherty wrote, "Talk about taking the mystery out of the proceedings. ... I'm not sure of the best solution, but it is taking a lot of the drama from Goodell's announcements" (TIMESUNION.com, 4/25). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote, "Give ESPN and the NFL Network credit for showing many of the draft picks getting their selection phone call right before they were picked, but knowing the pick before ... Goodell announced it took some fun out of the draft, didn't it?" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/26).

TALENT REVIEW: In K.C., Jason Whitlock writes ESPN's Herm Edwards "turned in a disastrous and distracting performance during the two-day NFL draft." Edwards "spent two days on air making damn sure he didn't offer one opinion that could potentially put him at odds with an NFL owner, general manager or remotely talented player." Whitlock: "Edwards was so bad that my sources in Dallas reported that [former ESPN analyst] Emmitt Smith could be heard shouting: 'I would've have did a better job!'" (K.C. STAR, 4/27). But USA TODAY's Hiestand writes Edwards "showed he can avoid coachspeak" with his take on Vikings draft pick WR Percy Harvin. Edwards: "This is one of those guys ... he's going to have a wreck. So, you better have a good body-and-fender man" (USA TODAY, 4/27). Meanwhile, the ST. PETE TIMES' Jones wrote ESPN analysts Steve Young, Mel Kiper and Keyshawn Johnson "were outstanding all day" on Saturday. As for Kiper, "no one knows more, and no one delivered more." And NFL Network's Jon Gruden's "true calling might be as an analyst." The "most interesting moment was Gruden predicting" that the Buccaneers, his former team, would pick Kansas State QB Josh Freeman (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/26). THE BIG LEAD writes, "Really liked Jon Gruden’s work on the NFL Network set. ... He had a few great lines Sunday" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 4/27).

Writer Lauds ESPN For Its
Coverage Of '09 NFL Draft
WORLDWIDE LEADER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay notes ESPN has televised the draft for the 30 years, for which the net deserves "our praise and wonderment." ESPN "does it with vigor," as the coverage was "still cranking into Sunday" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/27). But in Indiana, Todd Golden wrote, "I can no longer abide the hype around an 'event' that basically boils down to an NFL flunky announcing names at a podium." The problem with "turning a news event into entertainment is that they continually have to feed the beast to make sure the draft continues to ... entertain," and "much of the draft overkill can be blamed" on ESPN (Terre Haute TRIBUNE-STAR, 4/26). Meanwhile, in S.F., Rich Lieberman wrote ESPN "has a blatant bias toward" the Raiders. After the Raiders picked WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7 overall selection, ESPN's Chris Mortensen "did everything but a five-minute stand-up comedy act in response" (SFGATE.com, 4/26).

UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY: In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes of all the "awkward, hilarious, train-wreck interviews conducted over the weekend, the best featured" ESPN's Erin Andrews, former Univ. of Texas WR Quan Cosby and comedian Bill Cosby. Every time Andrews asked Quan Cosby a question, "his cell rang and he answered it." Meanwhile, Bill Cosby was wearing a Temple Univ. jersey and helmet, so his words "were muffled by his face mask." Gonzalez notes the interview "went on for about five painful, amusing minutes" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/27). THE BIG LEAD wrote of the segment, "The potential was there for a decent segment, but geez, that was painful" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 4/26).

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