Media draft analysis (cont.)
3. Why did Gruden not appear on the third day of the draft?
Rothman: "I took him off, but let's start with this: Next to Mel and McShay, nobody was more prepared than Jon. He had written reports of his own that were 20 deep at each position. He was sickly prepared for this thing. But after Friday night, I knew we were bringing McShay down to be with Mel, which would be unique and different. I knew Jaworski was on the set and we were firing up another set in Bristol with Herm Edwards, Tedy Bruschi and Trent Dilfer. Plus, we were increasing the videoconferencing and Sport Science pieces.
"So it was about 12:30 a.m. Friday night, he was tired and his voice was gone. I just said to him, 'You know what, you don't have to do this.' He said, 'No, no no. I'm going to do this. I studied for this.' I said, 'I don't want you to do this. You're exhausted and your voice is gone and the truth of the matter is I'm going to have five guys on the set again, which is difficult to navigate.'
"I don't make the final shots at ESPN, but I do oversee our NFL guys. I don't want to see Jon get lost in the sauce. He should be special. So to have him sit on a set of five on Saturday when Mel and McShay will be prominent, Jaws will be there, plus another set back in Bristol, I didn't want to do that to Jon.
"It makes me crazy to read irresponsible reporting saying Gruden quit. [Note: Rothman was unhappy with this report from ProFootballTalk.com.] That is such garbage. It's ridiculous. Here's the thing about Jon: He never wants to let anyone down. He is loyal and a man of his word."
4. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen ultimately went to the Panthers at No. 48. Is the fact that Kiper had him No. 4 on his board a referendum on Kiper's draft expertise?
Rothman: "It is not a perfect science, and the truth of the matter is only time will tell in terms of evaluating the evaluators. I know how hard Mel works and how hard he prepares. I told this to Gruden: 'You know what I love about Mel? He is the most humble guy. He is the nicest guy in the world and he has zero ego.'
"Mel does his work. He studies his tape. He has perspective. He talks to a lot of people in the league and he comes up with an educated opinion that is his opinion. And he does not mind if you bury him or criticize him. It is just his opinion. So in terms of your question, it happens. You have to evaluate the evaluators over time and see if indeed he was correct."
5. I contend the Saturday group would make for the best opening-night team. What is your reaction to that suggestion?
Rothman: "They are stars too, man, and they are talented. And I'm fine with that opinion. That's something we should evaluate too. But they have the luxury of not being beholden to the picks. If I said to you, we're going to do a show and we'll let you know who was picked when we get to it, well, that's kind of what Saturday is. What I love about Day 3 is you are not a slave to the picks. Day 3, you can pick a topic and go. You can pick a team's board and have a healthy conversation. You can go from point A to point B cleanly and not be a slave.
"Like I said, those guys are talented guys. Trey does a hell of a job. Jaws works his butt off. So three guys on that set are completely dialed in and Mel and Todd are great. We were never going to manufacture debate with them and, to be blunt, maybe at times in the past we have been capable of that. I was proud of what they did on Saturday and maybe it's something we move in the future."
6. Should the primetime draft be here to stay?
Rothman: "Well, I loved it, and I think the league did a great job. We were up 25 percent against LeBron James and other primetime competition. We will huddle up with the league in the near term to figure out what we can do to make it better, but the fact they brought in the Hall of Famers and stars littered throughout, I think football fans loved it."
And now Weinberger:
1. One of the biggest complaints from viewers is tipping picks, when your network and ESPN show shots of guys on the phone with teams before they get drafted. What is your reaction to those viewers who charge that it takes the drama away?
Weinberger: "I don't think its takes the drama away. I actually think it makes for a pretty amazing pacing. The teams call the players before the commissioner goes up to the podium. That means the player and agent know, and if teams are tweeting out their picks, we feel we have a journalistic responsibility to get it out there. That's why we do it.
"One of the best moments at the draft was when we had Dez Bryant and his family and a camera in his home. His family went crazy and he dropped to his knees in tears, and that was before the pick was announced. I have heard that frustration from fans and I have heard it from people in our NFL Network organization. I get it. But this is the way it happens. Sometimes it's three or four minutes before the actual pick is made. I think you are seeing a kid's emotion as he gets told that he is getting picked."
2. Mike Mayock lost his voice after two days. What contingency plan did you have in place as the linchpin of your coverage goes down?
Weinberger: "We knew that morning [Saturday] it would be a struggle. Mike came into the week with a bit of a cold and we tried to manage it as much as we could but it just gave out. I'll tell you, though, what he did on NFL.com ended up being fascinating. But we are glad his voice did not give out for Day 1 and Day 2."
3. Did the three-day draft work as a television program?
Weinberger: "There is so much information over the three days and there is shockingly even more that we can still do. Using Mack Brown for us as an analyst really opened up a lot of ideas of just how last week was about college football, high school and pro football coming together. We were stunned by how it carried through all the way to Saturday."
4. How would you assess your broadcast?
Weinberger: "We were so happy with our talent. It was amazing. Corey Chavous had a great weekend. Charles Davis had a huge weekend. I would almost break up Day Three into two days. I know it sounds ridiculous, but Day Three moved so fast that I'm not sure it didn't move too fast for the viewer."
5. Should the primetime draft become permanent?
Weinberger: "Yes. Maybe we can even do a round a night and do seven nights. That's what we were joking about in the truck, though you get in the round 5, 6 and 7 it starts getting a little tough. Why did I like the primetime draft? I just think more people get to see this unscripted sports reality show. You don't get much television like this: In the course of a minute, someone's life changes and you are able to see it. There is simply not much like that on television."