After all the speculation and anticipation, the clock struck 8 Thursday night and it was finally time to hear some picks.
With the first choice, the NFL selected … Kings of Leon.
With the second choice, the NFL selected … Roger Goodell’s recliner from his basement.
At around 8:25 p.m., they finally got to drafting players.
In what was an NFL news-palooza of a day — from Aaron Rodgers’ unhappiness to Tim Tebow’s potential comeback to the actual draft — the NFL forgot why people tuned in. We love the game. We love the picks.
Even if you like Kings of Leon’s music, you weren’t tuning in for Kings of Leon.
Just imagine the reverse happening: Before a Kings of Leon concert, they had a quick 7-on-7 flag football game. Odd, right?
The NFL honored Goodell’s recliner from his basement, which was a “heart in the right place” move. Last year, with the pandemic in full force, Goodell announced the call from his basement, sitting in his chair between picks.
On Thursday, the league chose one fan from each team to go on stage and sit in it during a selection. To transport the chair from Bronxville to Cleveland seemed excessive. It is not the Iron Throne.
Anyway, we weren’t tuning in for music or chairs. We were there for picks. Finally, they came and, with the Jets and Giants both making trades, it was glorious.
The TV draft coverage was won before a pick was made.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport were the Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson of their networks’ coverage. They gave their programs a shot of adrenaline with major news bombs.
Rapoport and Schefter, the insiders who churn out the most 365/24/7, went scoop for scoop. Rapoport struck first with the fact that the 33-year-old Tebow had a workout with the Jaguars to become a tight end for his college coach, Urban Meyer, the new Jacksonville coach. This was Tebow with some shock to it. That’s big stuff.
Schefter, though, fired back. A reporter’s first job is being able to attain information and then to properly frame it for the biggest impact. Schefter did that by saying Rodgers, the “reigning MVP” was so “disgruntled” that he has “told some within the organization that he does not want to return” to the Packers.
This story wasn’t out of nowhere. Rodgers had been famously sad that the Packers drafted quarterback Jordan Love last year.
Earlier Thursday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero had reported that the 49ers had called the Packers about a trade for Rodgers. Pelissero said there was a “zero percent chance” Green Bay would deal Rodgers. Fox’s Jay Glazer added minutes later that a few teams had called the Packers.
Then Schefter went further on the story and it fueled ESPN’s and then NFL Network’s coverage.
ESPN’s Mike Greenberg threw to every player interview with Suzy Kolber by saying, “Snickers brings us down to Suzy.” It was not a well-planned ad placement. We understand that there are bills to pay, but to jam this into the coverage was excessive.
As for Greenberg, we focused on his debut and ESPN’s coverage. Personally, I find him inoffensive. Did he make it feel bigger, like Chris Berman did? Probably not, but that is more “chicken and egg” stuff because Berman hosted the draft forever.
Draft-nicks should stay together
ESPN has Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay bicker about the picks leading into the draft. They should be on together during draft night. If they put Booger McFarland on the ABC “College GameDay” show, it would have a little more NFL, while Kiper should be making some moments with McShay on ESPN.
TV is a visual business
NFL Network had its team reporters on site for the draft, while ESPN did not. There was no actual reporting advantage by being on site, as there was no on-site access. ESPN said it did not travel to the team’s complexes because of COVID-19.
Having reporters outside of the complexes is eye wash, but TV is an eye-wash business. The NFL Network setup felt bigger compared to ESPN’s reporters being in their homes reporting on multiple teams.
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