ESPN Producers Will Not Tip Analysts During NFL Draft; Lovie Smith's Debut Criticized
ESPN analysts during NFL Draft coverage next week "won't know when players are about to get picked even when the folks in their production truck could tell them," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. But that "won't be the case with draft coverage on the NFL Network." Last year, NFL Net and ESPN "agreed not to show shots of prospects taking calls from teams or agents, which gave away that they were about to be picked." NFL Net Coordinating Producer Charlie Yook said that the net's analysts "will still get that information in advance." So why will ESPN "willingly let its talking heads speculate perhaps in the wrong direction?" ESPN NFL Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said, "We want their natural reactions. My favorite moments are things like Mel Kiper throwing down his book when picks are announced." One ESPN "change this year is that Chris Berman and Jon Gruden will only appear on the first day of the draft" (USATODAY.com, 4/18).
NO LOVE FOR LOVIE: In Chicago, David Haugh writes former Bears coach Lovie Smith on ESPN Thursday "provided indisputable evidence on 'SportsCenter' and 'NFL Live' that he belongs back on the sideline, not in the studio." Smith came off as "genuine but stiff, more like a folksier Eric Mangini." Smith became a "cliche the moment the red light went on Thursday and he embraced the media he showed so little respect for in nine seasons with the Bears, the latest hypocritical coach or player who decries the working press until he becomes a part of it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/19).