Friday, April 27, 2007

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The NFL draft: One big non-event

Jim Williams, The Examiner
Apr 27, 2007 3:00 AM (3 hrs ago)
Current rank: #5 of 5,961
BALTIMORE - For 28 years, ESPN has made the NFL draft an event. It’s hard to believe that a glorified roll call has morphed into the unofficial start to the NFL season.

The ratings for the show have never been better. It is ESPN’s highest-rated non-play-by-play sport. Yes, there are trades and interesting roster moves, but a show that lasts 18 hours over the course of two days still boils down to a team handing a card to a league official who then makes an announcement.

Somehow, this has become must-see TV. This weekend, ESPN will have their A-team on hand once again with the two most recognizable draft fixtures: host Chris Berman and Mel Kiper Jr. The network will also debut the new Monday Night Football booth trio of Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser and newcomer Ron Jaworski, who will be on hand to add their takes on the draft.

While ESPN put the NFL draft on the map, it is the NFL Network that is gaining fans each year by offering a very compelling alternative for viewers. On Saturday, the network will air “Setting Sail with Joe Thomas.” While most elite prospects will be in New York awaiting their name to be called, Thomas, the heralded offensive lineman from Wisconsin, will spend Saturday fishing on a lake in that state. NFL Network will have the only camera on the boat to document Thomas’ reaction when he is selected.

The NFL Network will also air various features this weekend:

• Will Ferrell and Ryan Kalil — A comedic feature with actor Ferrell and Southern Cal prospect Kalil. Ferrell plays “Chuck Berry,” a USC “auxiliary strength and conditioning coach,” who helps Kalil prepare for the 2007 draft using his own unique and unconventional methods. Also contributing in the feature are USC coach Pete Carroll and former USC quarterback Matt Leinart.

• “FanCam” — NFL Network will have a confessional booth for fans in attendance to analyze the picks made by their favorite team. The most compelling “confessions” may be used during the telecast.

ESPN and the NFL Network will have all the angles covered. And locally on the radio, SIRIUS NFL Radio, ESPN and Fox Sports Radio will offer wall-to-wall coverage of the biggest non-event in sports.

Contact Jim Williams at

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