The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for Fanhouse.com

Bumblin' and fumblin'

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The first night of the draft, I watched ESPN. I wish I had turned off the sound.

The second night of the draft, I watched NFL Network. The sound was better -- or rather the announcers were. But the constant flow of information overwhelmed me. I already knew what I wanted to know and that was enough.

I get the appeal and so, obviously, does the NFL. The move to prime time was a huge success with more viewers than even Roger Goodell thought possible. I guess the draft really is the league's second biggest event. And it clearly will be back in prime time next year -- assuming, of course, there is a next year with a labor settlement still in limbo.

Come to think of it, maybe that's the best way to get a settlement. Fix it before the draft so the NFL has its spring Super Bowl ready to go without fear of Chris Berman or Rich Eisen interjecting every few minutes "we hope we'll get to see these rookies play next fall.''

But here's my problem.

Since sometime around 1980 or 1981, I attended the draft. It kept getting bigger and bigger, going from hotel ballroom to bigger hotel ballroom to the theater at Madison Square Garden to Radio City Music Hall. The television hours got longer although being there, I didn't have to watch on TV. Frankly (and I acknowledge being jaded) being there can be very boring, even as they've cut the time between picks from 15 minutes to 10 in the first round and from 10 to seven in the second.

The last two years, I've watched on television. And maybe I know too much, but it's not much of a show, in part because even the highlights are repetitious -- do they ever show any draftee screwing up a play?

For the first round, it was Berman trying to scream over Steve Young who was trying to scream over Jon Gruden with Tom Jackson sitting mute because he doesn't scream. And Mel Kiper looking frustrated because he wasn't getting enough time to tell everyone how smart he was. Except when his draft board kept popping up and Jimmy Clausen kept showing up as "best available.'' He stayed there through the first round and, I presume, through No. 48 on the second day -- I wasn't watching ESPN by that time.

NFL Network?

Eisen is a true moderator. He asked questions rather than interjecting his own opinion or trying to squeeze in his shtick. Brian Billick was more objective than Gruden and Corey Chavous, who as a player used to hang out and entertain us with his knowledge of obscure players in the late rounds of drafts, provided some pretty good insight.

But the ratings tell the story, meaning the draft will be on in prime time next year.

And, as you can tell, I will watch NFL Network, not ESPN.

If I'm not there again.

Yeah, even I find it interesting.

If the announcers will let me hear what they have to say.

By Dave Goldberg  |  April 27, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , Draft , NFL , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Slippery slope | Next: Picks over shtick

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