What stood out about Night 1 of the NFL draft from a TV standpoint?
1. In terms of hype, popularity and anticipation, no sporting event has grown as much as the NFL draft has recently.
There was already massive thirst for this year’s draft because of the five quarterbacks who went in the first round and because we didn’t get a traditional draft last season.
Then all hell broke loose Thursday afternoon when the possibility of Aaron Rodgers getting traded was thrown into the mix.
I’m sure that development got a few more eyeballs on ESPN, ABC and NFL Network, all of which aired the draft.
I sampled all three presentations throughout the night and have some thoughts.
• I don’t know if Roger Goodell gave the order to constantly talk about how great it was to have fans back at the NFL draft, but that narrative was hammered by many of the on-air talent and it got old fast. Same for the constant reminders that everyone was vaccinated.
• Speaking of Goodell, he did an interview with Mike Greenberg on ESPN right before the draft started. You’d be an idiot to expect Greenberg to hit Goodell with any hard-hitting questions (he asked about the DeShaun Watson situation, however), but the over-the-top fawning was hard to take. Greenberg even told Goodell the commissioner’s hugs were something players missed last year.
Speaking of over-the-top, Greenberg kept talking about and introducing Kings of Leon as if they were the Beatles. Not every single thing has to be a sell job.
Greenberg also thought that painfully stupid bit with Goodell and his chair was high comedy. Nothing more needs to be said.
• ABC’s crew consisted of Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Todd McShay. It’s no surprise this panel was outstanding. Davis is an excellent host no matter what event he’s working, Herbstreit has more credibility than anyone on any draft show as the top analyst in college football and McShay was strong in breaking down each pick.
• The NFL Network’s crew consisted of Rich Eisen, Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis and David Shaw. This panel was also excellent. The star of the night for me, across all three broadcasts, was Jeremiah. He seemed to know more than anyone else about every pick. He didn’t give you just the basic information, and he was spot on with predictions and spoke in an authoritative, yet relatable, way.
Eisen has been doing the draft forever and knows how to hit the perfect balance between serious and comedy.
2. The Patriots gave everyone a look into their war room with this very cool video. What stands out is that Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time and can do whatever he wants, yet he still checked with several members of his staff to make sure they were all good with the team selecting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones.
3. Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle was selected sixth by the Dolphins. He had the best reaction of any player who got picked in the first round.
4. Tom Brady was prepared for Thursday.
What Brady wasn’t prepared for—and neither was anyone else—was that Mac Jones, who would be drafted by Brady’s old team to essentially replace him, got in on the shirtless Brady meme a couple of years ago.
5. Easiest guy to root for this season after getting drafted Thursday night? Alabama running back Najee Harris, who was selected by the Steelers.
6. The newest episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features two interviews.
First up is reporter John Ourand from Sports Business Journal. Ourand breaks down the NHL’s blockbuster TV deals with ESPN and Turner Sports, weighs in on whether this is a good or bad time to be a sports fan when it comes to consumption of games, linear TV’s reliance on live sports and the problem with streaming services. Other topics discussed with Ourand include Dan Le Batard’s startup, Meadowlark, partnering with Draft Kings, the rise of gambling content on game telecasts and more.
Following Ourand, former NFL defensive back Aqib Talib, who called two games for Fox last season, joins the podcast. Talib talks about his experience in the booth and the reaction he received from viewers. Talib also discusses covering the NFL draft for Bleacher Report, why he thinks mock drafts are bulls—, what he learned about Brady and Belichick while playing for the Patriots and why he thinks Peyton Manning should be the top-paid broadcaster in the NFL.
You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: On this date in 2009 The Office aired “Casual Friday.” Why is this signifiant? Because the episode featured one of the most famous openings ever and led to the creation of one of the most used GIFs.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.