Media draft wrapup (cont.)
Invited to New York
Stephania Bell: It was very smart of ESPN to include someone to focus on the medical issues of draftees. Bell provided particularly interesting details on Dennis Dixon and Colt Brennan, as well as the all-important medial collateral ligament of LaDainian Tomlinson.
Good Chris Berman: He gets killed in many quarters, including this one at times, but Berman provided some interesting information after the Gholston pick: The Jet linebacker could face Jake Long in Week 1 and Tom Brady in Week 2. Berman also asked a pointed and direct question of Giants general manager Jerry Reese about tight end-on-the-block Jeremy Shockey.
Cameras on draftees: It's always fun to see the draftees getting the call. Or not getting the call. There were great reaction shots from Michigan quarterback Chad Henne (yawning), Louisville Brian Brohm (eating), USC linebacker Keith Rivers and Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly on ESPN's airwaves.
Trey Wingo-Ron Jaworski-Cris Carter-Chris Mortensen-Mel Kiper Jr.: Just one dude's opinion, but this group had significantly better chemistry than the Day 1 crew. Near the draft's end, they had a nice couple of minutes with Army's Caleb Campbell. (Bravo to the production team for tracking down Detroit's Rod Marinelli for a live interview between Campbell and his new coach).
Videoconferencing From Home
The Bristol Roundtable: Around The Horn's Tony Reali, whose on-air appearance is so relaxed he could have been sleeping on a cot, led a Bristol-based discussion featuring the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Wyche, Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Jeff Chadiha and Michael Smith of ESPN. (No sports writer in America looks better in a suit than my old colleague, Chadiha).
I'm always for writers getting air time, even if the first couple of segments were as mellow as an Aimee Mann concert. Good job by Reali taking Smith to task for preening for the cameras and a better job by Smith to give balance to McFadden's off-the-field situations. Later, the segments provided some interesting discussion, including the idea of moving the draft from New York City (Not a good idea, Michael Smith). Chadiha says Gholston will be a Pro Bowl player. (File that away, Jets fans).
Cris Carter: "S. S. S. Slow, Short and no separation. But there was another 'S' too. Smoky." That was Carter, on Michigan wide receiver Mario Manningham, a Giants' third-round pick. (Manningham failed two drugs tests while in college). Carter's draft debut was unmemorable (his performance was still 10 times better than Michael Irvin), but this was one of the best lines of the draft.
The deification of Mayock: The NFL Network communication people were crowing about Mayock's first round -- he hit on the first six picks and 11 of the first 14 selections. Impressive. Of course, they didn't put out a release on the latter half of the first round, in which Mayock missed on every pick except Felix Jones at No. 22 (Yes, we know there were plenty of trades.)
Steve Young: At one point he called Chris Long -- son of Howie -- Chris Young. He also whiffed bad on Michigan State's Devin Thomas, who went 10 picks (No. 34, Washington) after Young wrote the pick down with his "ink pen."
I like Young, but he's had better broadcasts. He moved up a level strictly for his analysis of Packer draftee Brian Brohm. ("Great for the Packers. Adding depth at quarterback is never a problem. Good for the organization. But for Aaron Rogers, personally, if I were him, I'd feel like you just put that much more pressure on me.")
Good luck in the CFL
Promotional overkill: With the cameras focused on the front of an ESPN Zone on Broadway in midtown Manhattan, Reali intoned at the start of a segment that, "That is scenic New York City." Having lived in New York City for the past decade, I didn't know the ESPN Zone was considered one of my city's most famous landmarks. A Fordham grad, Reali knows better.
Bad Chris Berman: It's been years since I've read or heard a single person clamoring for Berman to circus up the broadcast, from his vaudevillian pronunciation of "The Raaaaaaiders" to telling viewers how the Saints are about to "march again on offense" The low came after the Pats selection of Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo. "You know what opponents of the Patriots will get 15 yards for next year? Berman asked. "Holding the mayo." Welcome to the Catskills, folks.
Green Room drama: Though no one actively roots for a player to fall spots, Markman said much of the drama of the first round had been eliminated in the first hour. "We lost the green room in the first six picks," he said. "That's always been reality television for us." Unfortunately, the Green Room also didn't bring much to the table in terms of interviews. The highlight among the players was Glenn Dorsey telling a nearly invisible Suzy Kolber, "I'm as happy as all outdoors."
Hyping your interview with the NFL Commissioner: If you're an NFL fan and you get a brief audience with Roger Goodell, I'm guessing you're going to use most of your time on something other than "the high quality channel" that is The NFL Network. Well, that's not the case, according to this unintentionally hilarious transcript from the The NFL Network:
Analyst Charles Davis: "As you mingle with the fans, I'm sure you hear about the draft first and foremost because it is what is going on, but what are the other things you are hearing from them that strike a button for you? We're going international a little bit more now. What are the things you're hearing from the fans that they either like or dislike?"
Goodell: "The great thing about the fans is that they always have an opinion, no matter what. They have an opinion on everything from the Patriots to Pacman. Should we keep the Draft here in New York or move it around? They have an interesting perspective. At the end of the day, that's who we're here for. They watch NFL Network, they talk a lot about the high quality channel that we have. They really do. They talk about how much they love watching NFL Network."
Last week I asked both ESPN senior coordinating producer Jay Rothman and NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger the same question: If a viewer has both ESPN and the NFL Network, why should he or she choose your draft coverage? Here were the answers:
Weinberger: "We will all tell you -- and I am not trying to cop out of anything -- both networks coverage is phenomenal. This is a monster of a show. They have obviously been doing this for longer than we have. The uniqueness for us and for our viewers is that this is our fulltime job. No one else can really say that.
"We have been analyzing players and educating viewers on this since the college football season started and really, in earnest, since our exclusive coverage of the Senior Bowl and combine. It's all that we do. We're not cramming for a test today. The main thing we can say is this has been our first and foremost priority since the Super Bowl ended."
Rothman: "You know why? Because we have been the voice of record for some time and I think our talent is unmatched. These guys do a great job and I respect and know all of them. But I stand by our guys."
Now it's your turn. Tell us what you thought of the NFL coverage here.