NFL Draft Media Review: ESPN

Monday, April 28, 2008

You know it’s a bad omen for a review when I have no idea where to even start when picking apart a broadcast. ESPN’s Day One coverage of the Draft was probably only slightly behind the 100+ Band view broadcast of last year’s Orange Bowl, as the worst telecast I’ve ever seen. They missed picks, talked over picks and each other, had 40 people trying to chime in, got into fights with each other, and had more commercials on-air than the Draft itself. I was listening to Sporting News Radio late last night and I think their host Matt Spiegel summed it up best by saying, “I was begging for more Mike Tirico.”

Chris Berman is now on the short list of people that should be banned from ever touching the mic again and it’s kind of a shame. We all grew up with the guy but somewhere along the way the schtick overtook any semblance of Sports knowledge he had. He was so lost the entire broadcast that he would have to occasionally pause and rethink his own cheesy nicknames before blurting them out. I’m no Rich Eisen fan, but in this capacity he is head and shoulders above the “has been” Berman. I still think he works well on clip shows and gimmicks like the Homerun Derby, but too many people take the Draft seriously and he’s just a joke at this point. It’s time to phase him out as soon as you can.

As far as the other analysts what can you say? I don’t know when Ron Jaworski got the where with all to argue every single prediction from his partners, but he might possibly be more annoying than Berman. It’s okay to debate the picks and trades but when you’re shouting over top of your “teammates” you just look like a fool. I love his football knowledge and he knows the QB position like no other, but he needs to just settle down and pass along his knowledge calmly. Cris Carter really added nothing and while Mel Kiper’s player knowledge is unprecedented the staged on-air feuds with Todd McShay were unbearable. You need to pick either one or the other and be done with it. The last bad thing I’m going to say about their coverage is that Chris Mortensen should never be on live television. He’s like a deer in headlights out there.

Okay, now that the negatives are out of the way let’s get into what they did well, so they can improve for next year. Trey Wingo should be the host. He leads one of your main NFL shows during the season and offseason and his Football acumen is on par with anyone ESPN has. Adding Kirk Herbstreit on the coverage (presumably for Emmitt Smith) was a good decision and while Michael Smith is a work in progress, he has some promise. Overall the Day Two coverage was actually pretty good and the interview with Caleb Campbell, although somewhat over-the-top, came off as a good addition late in the Draft (even though Jaws almost fell of the stage trying to stand up and shake his hand).


Chris Berman: Z-
Trey Wingo: B
Ron Jaworski: C-
Cris Carter: D
Mel Kiper: C+
Chris Mortensen: D
Mike Tirico: B
Kirk Herbstreit: B
Todd McShay: C+
Michael Smith: B-
Producers: F (For deciding it was okay to miss about 10% of the first round)

Overall: D- (only because of Day Two)

You can’t miss live picks, have more commercials than coverage, and have people constantly bickering, and expect to get good reviews. I’m more than positive that there won’t be one major writer in the Country that would give ESPN a passing grade for Day One, and if you see one let me know. Just a horrible, horrible attempt at something they’ve done well in the past.

Video of the Weekend: McShay vs. Kiper (DING!)

NFL Draft Media Review: NFL Network
Weekend Tube Review: NFL Network vs. ESPN (The Sporting Blog)


Kiper > McShit

Apr 28, 2008, 11:35:00 AM  

Berman was just stringing words together, he made no sense.

It was like they were all listening to someone tell them what to do and the resulting lag in their bombed out brains caused the slowness and disjointedness. Maybe the person telling them what to say was an idiot, like Jethro Bodine or someone.

It was weird.

I liked how ESPN kept on putting random players in the Mel's Picks sidebar categories, CBs and RBs in the OL positions...professional.

ESPN == better than you.

hollywood wags said...
Apr 28, 2008, 11:36:00 AM  

I know what you mean about Mel's best available. For Quarterbacks it said Craig Steltz, too bad he's a safety. ESPN blows.

ifiok2567 said...
Apr 28, 2008, 11:41:00 AM  

Did anyone else notice how Mortensen, on several occasions, would be talking when ESPN went back to Radio City? He either didn't know they were coming back from a break, or he just didn't care.

Goo said...
Apr 28, 2008, 11:56:00 AM  

I wasn't very happy with a lot of things, but the part that is most fresh in my mind is the Day 2 flubs.

Most annoyingly, the only reason anyone was watching to see picks no. 247+ was to see who would be Mr. Irrelevant.

With 5 picks to go in the whole thing, and the crowd going nuts being more entertaining than any of the analysts, of course it's time for commercial!

After that we get to hear more BS arguments over Brian Brohm and others, as Jaws just sits there flubbing lines and stuttering for minutes-- as the crowd slow claps in the background.

People come on stage, finally. Instead of building suspense, lets talk over the introduction of the Old guy announcing, thanks ESPN!


Chase said...
Apr 28, 2008, 11:59:00 AM  

I did not enjoy Wingo at all. He ruined my day by defending the Patriots O-Line that it "was clear Brady had an ankle injury". Talk about revisionist history on his part. His first set of questioning to Drew Rosenhaus was dumb beyond belief and he is lucky that Drew does 99% of the talking in his interviews.

My view of Chris Mortensen went up when Cris Carter got all high and mighty about Mario Manningham's struggles with his slow combine time, which later were easily beaten at his pro-day, and that he smoked weed. Mort asked Carter about his addiction to drugs that got him dumped from the Eagles. It was a subtle jab that quickly made the topic change but I think Mort was saying as humbling as Manningham being a late 3rd round selection for his problems, Carter should look in the mirror and see a changed man.

Anonymous said...
Apr 28, 2008, 12:07:00 PM  

I thought ESPN did a fantastic job. So what if they need 40 people? It's a big event so it does need that many people. I think they actually did not use enough people.

Mel Kiper is one of the best in the biz and ESPN continues to show why they are the best network to watch.

ESPN Non Basher said...
Apr 28, 2008, 12:12:00 PM  

"ESPN continues to show why they are the best network to watch."

ESPN, is that you?

Tom said...
Apr 28, 2008, 12:32:00 PM  

"I think they actually did not use enough people."

I think that they should have had one analyst for every draft pick, except the Steelers, because a Steelers draft pick is time for commercial.

They should exhume the corpse of Irv Cross and set him up in a corner and ask him questions about the Broncos D line.

hollywood wags said...
Apr 28, 2008, 1:24:00 PM  

ESPN is terrible and unwatchable. How could anyone watch that shit? And Trey Wingo is a disgrace that acts like he played pro football. They dont need 40 people thats a joke.

madnice said...
Apr 28, 2008, 1:59:00 PM  

I thought Tony Reali did a good job of hosting the "round table" discussions. However, his partners were awful, especially Michael Smith and that chick. First of all, Smith didn't answer one question; instead, he decided to be politically correct and not take any sides the entire time - much to the dismay of Reali. The chick, on the other hand, probably couldn't name more than 10 teams in the league, but she sure knows the Cowboys and Texans. Thanks for that.

-/<- said...
Apr 28, 2008, 2:25:00 PM  

I have to think that Berman is on his way out...his not being at the Masters this year hopefully means his time as a major contributor is coming to an end. I really don't want him at the home run derby either because, honestly, how many times can one hear 'back, back, back..' before wanting to vomit?

Not defending ESPN here, but I have to think that they sold ad time based on last year's draft, and this years day one FLEW by, so I'm sure the producers were scrambling trying to get that pre-sold ad time in there. That's still no excuse for missing live picks, though, especially on day one.

The problem with these huge productions with tons of people is you inevitably end up with people talking over one another. The Kiper/McShay squabbles are simply an extension of the old Salisbury/Clayton fights. ESPN seems to think that people crave drama and altercation. Most people don't.

I'd think that a core group of 4 guys would be more than sufficient for draft day coverage. Have Trey host, you have to have Jaws there since he's your big MNF guy, have Kiper, and have Steve Young. Young's well spoke, eloquent, and doesn't seem to enjoy trying to yell over someone else's point.

Then do the remote segments where you cut to Clayton, or Mort, but in short segments.

The draft coverage this year was a disaster.

Anonymous said...
Apr 28, 2008, 2:56:00 PM  

It was SO bad, I watched the very mediocre NFL Network instead.

Hey ESPN, where was Tom Jackson???
He's the absolute best, and only good, thing you've got going on your NFL coverage.

Anonymous said...
Apr 28, 2008, 4:02:00 PM  

AA, I normally agree with you, ut Herbstreit added NOTHING to the broadcast. He was so far out of his element he seemed like Emmitt Smiff at a Spelling Bee.

The Day 2 Roundtable with Stat Boy was so bad that I flipped over to the NHL playoffs instead of listening to 4 people and Michael Smith that know nothing about football.

GMoney said...
Apr 28, 2008, 4:22:00 PM  

First, I like Jaws when he is breaking down film. He is the best. They should have the NFL Matchup team set up to do film analysis of the picks and talk about what they need to do to make it in the pros.

Second, ESPN is an easy target because they are alone at the top of the mountain. But, the tape of the draft coverage ain't going to the Emmy Committee. What a total mess of a production. If any of us did our jobs that badly we'd be canned.

Mal said...
Apr 28, 2008, 7:36:00 PM  

>>> I thought ESPN did a fantastic job.

Why am I reminded of Bush's vote of confidence in the head of FEMA right after Katrina?

SpartanDan said...
Apr 29, 2008, 1:59:00 AM  

This was the worst ESPN draft coverage, ever!

Give me more old ESPN clips with Paul Zimmerman looking older than he does now.

First of all, PLEASE let the commish announce the picks. Do NOT let Michael Smith get the "scoop". BTW- He knows nothing and is so full of himself. I heard Adam Shefter announced the picks for NFL Network, so the same for both.

Here is why it was the worst- Keyshawn (Just give me the damn microphone) and Steve Young (I'm so cerebral my head will explode unless I talk) were HORRIBLE! ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE! They totally ruined it for me. Just because they are former players does not mean they know a lick about drafting. Floyd Reese, while still a relative media newbie- and it shows, would have been MUCH better, because he's been in this position.

Young & Keyshawn are okay giving me commentary on the pre-game show, but not here.

Keyshawn calling out Ocho was humorous- Pot meet Kettle! And as a wide receiver, he and Young kept saying (I've got it here "in ink"- dumbass) the next pick was going to be a wide receiver. Um, no... Who's better, Salisbury or Young? (I'll take Sean), Irvin or Keyshawn? (I'll taken neither) Or, in truth with the latter, who's worse?

The fewer people on the ESPN stage, the better. It should've just been, Boomer, Kiper, & Mortensen.

I'll always prefer Berman and Tom Jackson (hugely underated and earned points by not doing any of this stuff) giving me the day's actual highlights.

The Tirico side show works, especially if it was just him & Jaws (he is the best at breaking down film) just to give Berman & Co a break.

While all 6 players left the Green room- which it's hard to forget the Brady Quinn debacle/irony- having the video conferencing on Brohm & Henne was equally the same- they just moved it from NYC to their living rooms. It's hard to watch guys (even if they put it on themselves by allowing the camera there) watch as they lose money...

The Top 3-
Kiper, all staged McShay debates & hair comments aside, knows his stuff and the kids. Let him have his- brief- moments...

Mortensen was average and he is the best insider of teams...

And Berman was, well, Berman...

I missed the video conferencing with the coaches about their pick in the 1st round- they caught up in the 2nd round and on Day 2. Also, the reporters in the field seemed limited and staged (see also- Ed Werder in Dallas).

Speaking of Day 2- Wingo was okay, Carter was below average, and Reali (he's earning his stripes, as he called out Michael Smith and the chick) was stuck moderating with a bunch of yahoos. Again, Michael Smith adds nothing (and should not do this again or be on TV again- he's so damn arrogant) and the chick from Ft. Worth- Ugh. The Caleb Campbell thing at first was nice, but way overdone after the first few moments...

Next year I'll give NFL Network a shot.

Here's a quick shout out to Sean Salibury, who is missed...

Anonymous said...
Apr 30, 2008, 2:20:00 PM  

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