So why the decline in numbers in the 2nd year of the NFL Draft in primetime? For one, lockout fatigue may be finally setting in on some hardcore fans. The uncertainty and bitterness surrounding the labor dispute might have tuned some fans out of the Draft coverage entirely.
Another factor in the ratings downfall could have been the stiff competition on TV Thursday night. In fact, ESPN's coverage was ranked 3rd in primetime behind American Idol (which people apparently still watch without British Mel Kiper...you know, Simon What's-his-name) and The Big Bang Theory (a show I wouldn't watch if tied down and held at gunpoint). The worldwide leader should actually be pleased that they were able to beat the likes of the NBA Playoffs and Steve Carell's final episode of The Office, which was definitely a tear-jerker for fans of the show like yours truly.
Now, I know what you're thinking, if my brother Matt were around this weekend, he'd have the perfect Office video to tie back in to the NFL Draft. But, since he's not here, my weekend present to you is a random compilation of "That's What She Said"...enjoy!
It was a new experience last night for viewers watching ESPN's NFL Draft coverage. Gone were the days of 25 analysts crammed on the main stage all fighting for the little bit of talking time between picks. Gone were endless cutaways to team sites and war rooms. Instead, ESPN went all-in with the tandem of Mel Kiper and Jon Gruden. So, how did the leaner and meaner NFL Draft coverage grade out? Let's go through the good, the bad, and the ugly to give ESPN's 1st Round performance the proper evaluation.
-The reduced main set with Gruden and Kiper was a classic example of addition by subtraction. Last year's 1st Round was ruined by Steve Young dominating analysis without saying anything of substance. The revolving door of NFL analysts brought in by ESPN over the years (Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Irvin, etc.) all seemed more interested in making sure their voice was heard instead of analyzing the draft. Reducing the circus to the duo of Kiper and Gruden allowed the two analysts to shine. Instead of waiting for Steve Young to finally stop talking, we finally got our money's worth from Mel Kiper, who was able to give the type of analysis this year that he had to cram into 30 seconds in previous years. What little debate there was between Gruden and Kiper allowed both to shine as well.
-Gruden especially was on top of his game, separating himself from the pack of ESPN's NFL analysts with a tour de force performance. With the extra time allowed by the slimmed down set, Gruden was able to showcase the insight everyone loves from Gruden's QB Camp. The scouting reports ESPN had from Gruden and Kiper were very informative, especially the 2 pages of adjustments Gruden suggested Cam Newton would have to make to be successful in the NFL. The extra air time given to Gruden also allowed him to actually get into some of the concerns he had for each player. And while Gruden was still largely positive, he wasn't the one-trick "I LOVE THIS GUY" pony that he can revert back to at times. While Gruden still isn't the perfect draft analyst (more on that later) his attention to detail and clinical breakdown of each prospect from a coach's perspective was a breath of fresh air.
-Mark Ingram's moment, although contrived by ESPN and Suzy Kolber, was still an emotional moment. Seeing the former Heisman Trophy winner read an email from his father (currently in prison) allowed all of the emotion of the draft to bubble to the surface. And while I'm normally not one to accept such made for TV moments, the connection of father and son was worth the manufactured drama.
-Although it was a minor detail, I was relieved ESPN chose not to use Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen to spoil every pick before it happened. The revealing pictures of young men getting a phone call they had dreamed their whole lives about was more than enough. Once again, ESPN decided to scale back the on-screen presence of Mort and Schefty and it worked. For those who wanted to be in the know, Schefter was again a Twitter maniac, which is exactly the proper forum for tipping potential picks.
Nobody knows what exactly is going on in the NFL right now, but one thing all football fans can celebrate is the sanctity of the NFL Draft, with the 1st Round happening tonight. There are many questions about the lockout and the state of the NFL's CBA, but we at AA have a few different questions in anticipation of ESPN's new trim and slim coverage of tonight's 1st round. How many towels will be required to mop up Chris Berman's sweat? Will Roger Goodell be tossed any softballs by Berman between picks? How many "guys" will Jon Gruden absolutely love? Will Mel Kiper's hair actually move on set? Will any viewers be watching NFL Network instead? If you have the answers to these questions and more, feel free to leave a comment below. We'll be back on Friday to grade ESPN's coverage of Round 1 and will include the best comments in our recap so make sure you let us know what you think throughout the evening. Happy Draft Day!
Before the draft even starts, we have our first unique moment of the draft as Goodell makes his first appearence and is met with a chorus of chants for "We Want Football". He did well to shake it off, but it's hard to ignore moments like this.
We are just hours away from the start of one of the nerdiest events of the sporting year, the NFL Draft. It's the conclusion of months of daily NFL Live shows on ESPN and weeks of banter between various "draft gurus." If we are lucky, this will finally be the year that Kiper snaps and takes a swing at McShay.
Up above is the hype video from SportsCenter from DJ Steve Porter that has been making its rounds on the internet. If you've wanted to hear what Chris Berman and Mel Kiper would sound like if they were in a quasi-rap song and autotuned to hell, then you'll love this! My highlight of this video is certainly the shots of Jaws from the 94 Draft around the 2 minute mark.
Another link that you'll certainly find useful is this NFL Draft 2011 drinking game from Gunaxin. There certainly is lots of "upside" to this game. The downside is you'll be blacked out by pick 13.
Stay tuned, we'll have an open thread tonight to celebrate the draft.
As if Jets coach Rex Ryan wasn't starved for attention enough, we now have to deal with his enormously large wordhole in the offseason as well. You see, evidently Rexy's rants aren't good enough for just the spoken tongue, no, Jets coach Rex Ryan has written a book! Yay! In case you're wondering what the heck Rex Ryan would write a book about, it's not about building a dynasty (like Bill Walsh). It's not about winning the Super Bowl (like Sean Payton). It's not supposed to be inspirational (like Tony Dungy). It's not even Ditka: An Autobiography. We won't exactly know what it is until the book is released next week. However, it is titled Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership In The World's Most Beautiful Game.
And, from the Amazon description, it looks like this book won't be about championships (Rex hasn't won any as a head coach) or inspiring people (unless it's to go get a GD snack)... no, it'll be about Rex Ryan saying obnoxious and tiresome things because that's what Rex Ryan does. Amazon's description tries to frame it nicely...
Most of all, fans will get insider access to Ryan’s headline-grabbing, brutally honest, and undeniably entertaining views on the NFL . . . and the very human side of the larger-than-life athletes who devote their lives to the game of football. From Ryan’s acceptance of the Jets head coaching job to his success in turning around a team that has long been number two in New York, from his drafting and believing in Mark Sanchez to kicking off the 2010 season with massive expectations (and a target on his back)—this book goes deep, and entertains on every level.
Here's what they mean to say: Rex Ryan is trying to make as much money as he can not from winning any championships, but from providing soundbytes. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself and the book will really be filled with golden words of wisdom by which to live an inspired, snack filled life. Excuse me while I hold my breath...
Last week, we had the distinct pleasure of sharing with you the 13 craziest clips of former SportsCenter anchor and current Boston Bruins announcer Jack Edwards. His greatest hits range from bizarre German accents to bizarre speeches to bizarre yelling to bizarre American history lessons. Come to think of it, all of the clips are bizarre... but definitely entertaining. I don't even think you can classify it as either "good" or "awful" announcing... it stands on its own, unique merit. Regardless, Crazy Jack is swiftly becoming one of AA's favorites. He was at it again after Boston's Game 7 OT win over the hated Canadiens. Congrats if you spun the Jack Edwards Roulette Wheel Of Insanity and landed on American history lesson. You're a winner tonight!
Thanks to @roneface for finding the full video. The ending that the original post references starts about 1:30 in
Gary Neal (temporarily) saved San Antonio's season with this amazing buzzer beater at the end of regulation in Game 5 with San Antonio trailing 97-94. The Spurs would later win in OT to force a Game 6 back in Memphis. Neal caught the inbounds pass at the top of the key with 1.7 seconds left, took a dribble, fired, and showed a little ONIONS by making the three. Unfortunately for fans watching around the country, the same could not be said for the Memphis/NBATV announcing team...
It's embarrassing for NBATV to broadcast that around the country. We chronicled this weekend how badly NBATV was dropping the ball by broadcasting playoff games with local announcers. Instead of subjecting us to the homerish San Antonio pair of Bill Land and Sean Elliott... we got the homerish Memphis pair of Pete Pranica and Brevin Knight for Game 5. All I know is I never want to hear the phrase "Z-Bound" again. But again, I don't blame them for making the homer call that they did. As Memphis announcers they are obviously disappointed, and that's their prerogative as Memphis announcers. Why NBA fans are subjected to it around the country though is another story.
Look at what ESPN quietly did for Game 4 of Celtics/Knicks. With Jim Durham out, ESPN Radio grabbed Celtics play-by-play man Mike Gorman to fill in and partner Dr. Jack Ramsay. Gorman was able to deliver a neutral, professional broadcast and left his Celtics colors at home because he was working for ESPN and not Comcast New England. Just for full disclosure, we interviewed Mike at AA last month, but his work last weekend shows that local guys are capable of doing a professional job on the national stage. I doubt ESPN would want him doing the same broadcast for ESPN Radio that he would do for CSNNE. Unfortunately for the wide majority of NBA fans, NBATV doesn't get that.
Thankfully, we now have a defining moment for the ridiculousness of using local feeds for nationally televised playoff games. The most exciting play of the NBA Playoffs thus far, and we are treated to... silence. No reaction. No words. Not even a grunt or scream of disbelief. Nothing! After a full seven seconds of silence, we did get this pathetic, someone just took a chainsaw to my stuffed teddy bear, "play-by-play" afterwards...
"And it appears we are headed to overtime. The ruling will have to be reviewed but it appears that Gary Neal has sent this game to overtime."
Could you imagine Kevin Harlan, Marv Albert, or Mike Breen on that call? Shoot, I would take Dick Stockton's incoherent ramblings over that! I would take Joe Buck! I would even take Mickey Rooney! Maybe that's fitting for the fans in Memphis or Western Tennessee, but the rest of us around the country have the same reaction to this announcing as the Grizzlies announcers did for Neal's buzzer beater.
As always, thanks for the video goes to @bubbaprog.
A bit of news from the horse racing world today. Yes, we really do cover it all at AA. Tom Durkin, who has called every Triple Crown race for the last decade on network television, will not be announcing any Triple Crown races for NBC this year or in the near future. He wasn't fired, or phased out of the broadcast. No, Durkin left on his own accord... because of the stress associated with broadcasting the races. From Daily Racing Form...
“It’s always been stressful,” said Durkin, who was prescribed Inderal, a beta blocker, to deal with the anxiety.
Looking to alleviate that stress from his life, Durkin will no longer be the voice of the Triple Crown, deciding not to seek a renewal of his contract with NBC Sports, with whom he has been affiliated for 27 years. Durkin, who has called the last 30 Triple Crown races on network television, will continue to work as the announcer at the New York Racing Association’s three tracks – Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. Durkin is under contract with NYRA through the fall of 2015.
Who knew that announcing horse races could be so stressful? It's not one of those things that easily comes to mind, but I can imagine that having an entire national television broadcasting career come down to a few minutes each year would be very stressful. It's unfortunate because I always enjoyed Durkin's calls. He was especially fantastic at the Belmont when so many horses like Real Quiet or Smarty Jones fell just short of the Triple Crown. The following video though may be the best horse racing call of all-time, and it's from Tom Durkin..
By the way, the rumored name to replace Durkin according to DRF is Larry Collmus from Monmouth Park. It's ok if that name doesn't sound familiar, but I guarantee you've heard him announce a race before...
Seen here showcasing his uncanny ability to bring tears to the eyes of overweight beer guzzlers like myself who will never enter a stadium without a ticket, Michael Irvin delivered another rousing pre-game speech to close out the Hurricanes' 2011 spring training.
Having never moved beyond the high school level myself, I can only imagine the rigors of the spring session. Also, when I remember that it's 90 degrees and about 600% humidity, I throw up a little bit in my mouth. But that's what it takes to wear the U, ladies and gentlemen. Plain and simple. It's a process. And if that process doesn't lead to winning more than 7 games, there will be blood in the streets of South Florida until Michael Irvin is named head coach.
What do you think it costs to hire Mike as a personal life coach? Whatever it is, I'm sure I could make it if I had this guy barking at me. I'd be winning blogging championships left and right like you wouldn't believe, just killing the Internet on every level. ON EVERY LEVEL.