NFL Draft Weekend

Tomorrow is the NFL Draft, an event which at one time, was a group of team executives sitting at tables at some hotel conference room, talking on the phone and handing their pick to Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Now, the event has grown to a made-for-TV event with ESPN providing wall-to-wall coverage on its family of networks and its website. The event has been moved from Madison Square Garden to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York and while the viewers may not know every player’s name, fans of NFL teams sit and watch with baited breath to see who their General Manager will choose. Remember Donovan McNabb being roundly booed by Philadelphia Eagles fans? What about Draft Expert Mel Kiper calling the Jets’ pick of Jeff Lageman a wasted draft pick? And the shenanigans two years ago when the Minnesota Vikings had trouble getting their pick in on time?

They have become memorable moments for football fans and it gives the NFL a chance to grab the headlines for one weekend in the Spring. So with this year’s draft being covered by the NFL Network, ESPN, Sirius Satellite Radio and various websites across the country, fans will be covered one way or another.

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand takes a look at ESPN’s coverage and also has a preview of TNT’s and ABC’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs which also start on Saturday.

The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein has a few paragraphs on the draft, but his article’s main gist is the lack of coverage on Comcast SportsNet of Kerry Wood’s outburst in the Cubs’ dugout Monday. Comcast was criticized for protecting the Cubs, but SportsNet GM Jim Corso said the video was not good enough to air. Greenstein, as a good reporter should do, went to check it out for himself and gives his analysis of the video. It should be mentioned that the Tribune and Comcast are partners in SportsNet through programming and the Cubs.

Bill Griffith of the Boston Globe has a look at ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft.

By writing one day a week, Jim Baker of the Nashua Telegraph tries to catch up on NBC getting back into the NFL and on television coverage of the Boston Marathon. It doesn’t work.

Over to the New York Post where grumpy curmudgeon Phil Mushnick yells at WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog for much of his weekly column. Mushnick likes to belittle the popular pair, but comes off sounding like a man who’s time has passed. Despite that, he’s a good read solely for his rants.

Andrew Marchand of the Post has his usual cycle of Friday stories. He has a mini-column that looks at how the new NFL deal for ESPN will affect its contract with the NHL (whenever it decides to come back from its insignificant lockout).

Marchand also interviews NBC Universal Sports President Dick Ebersol who’s division made a huge splash by obtaining Sunday Night Football this week.

The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman checks in this week. He has a very good look at what ESPN is actually paying for in its deal for Monday Night Football. There are no playoff games, no Super Bowls, no Pro Bowls, NFL Primetime has been pushed back to 12 a.m. Monday (that’s right, no longer at 7:30 p.m. Sunday) and the slate will just be 17 regular season games on Monday Night. When all is said and done, could ESPN lose money on the NFL on this contract?

Larry Stewart of the Los Angeles Times says the euphoria of getting the NFL is over for NBC Sports. It’s now time to focus on who will call the games on Sunday nights. And Stewart speculates on who will fill ESPN’s booth, whether it be Michaels and Madden or Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire, the Sunday Night crew for the alleged Worldwide Leader.

Tom Hoffarth of the crosstown LA Daily News looks ahead to 2013 and the possibility that ESPN’s next move might be cablecasting a Super Bowl.

John Cotey of the St. Petersburg Times gives the pros and cons of ESPN’s spending $1.1 billion for MNF.

We continue our trip to Florida with a story from Rick Harmon of the Tampa Tribune wondering if NBC overspent on the NFL. Newspaper writers are so jealous.

Bob Costas did a conference call with newspaper media writers and Dan Caesar recaps what was said in a column he wrote yesterday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Costas’ hometown paper. There’s been speculation what role Costas will have on NBC’s coverage, but he was quick to point out that his contract with both HBO and NBC expires next spring.

BusinessWeek looks at the MNF deal for ESPN and why it paid so much for the rights.

I always give the last word to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle who wrote about Jim Nantz’s efforts to help bring another Super Bowl to Houston and previews this weekend’s work at the PGA Tour event in the same city.

If my schedule allows it, I hope to have a review of ESPN’s coverage of the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

Update: 1:20 p.m.

Newsday’s Steve Zipay reports that ESPN has renewed a deal to air MLB games on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Details have not been released. Its current deal expires this season and ESPN has a separate deal to carry daytime and postseason games that finishes in 2006. It’s not known if the new deal includes any postseason games. This is not being reported by anyone else and Sports Business Daily picked up Zipay’s story.

Also, Comcast SportsNet has filed a suit against the Baltimore Orioles that prevents the Washington Nationals games from being televised on cable and satellite. Just a couple of days ago, it appeared that the Nationals were about to be carried on DirecTV, but that went by the boards with the lawsuit. Baseball fans are the losers in this lawsuit. Nationals games are still being televised locally on WDCA and WTTG. Here’s the story from ESPN.com. We get the DC perspective from Thomas Heath of the Washington Post. This fight will get uglier before it gets resolved.