Did NFL Labor Dispute Stymie ESPN’s Draft Day 1 Coverage?

The pall of uncertainty seems to have stymied ESPN’s broadcasting stars during last night’s premiere coverage of NFL Draft Day #1. Last night’s ESPN NFL Draft Day # 1 coverage proved lackluster at best. Its commentary was guarded, predictable and carefully measured.

The normally colorful Chris Berman, the loquacious Mel Kiper, Jr., and the ever-garrulous John Gruden served up little surprise and sizzle concerning the cadre of college stars sharing the Radio City Music Hall stage with the unseen 800 pound elephant in the room – the current NFL Labor Dispute.

Sure. Berman, Kiper and Gruden cautiously commented on Carolina’s predictably corralling Heisman winner Cam Newton as its coveted #1 pick. The trio trumped over Missouri’s Blane Gabbert sliding down the same draft board that FSU’s Christian Ponder surprisingly jumped up. And Berman even sappily suggested that Colorado’s towering OT Nate Solder’s imposing presence is big enough to block out the sun.

However, football fans watching at home waited in vain for ESPN’s Boys in the Booth to deliver the obvious – yet dubious – distinctions of NFL Draft Day 1; like:

1. Nick Fairley is No Fashionista – How come no one commented that the Auburn DT’s draft stock possibly slipped because the NFL questioned his intelligence surrounding his Steve Erkel wardrobe choice? Who could possibly miss the bow tie, the plaid and the oversized glasses that typified that unathletic and poindexter punster of 1980s sitcom fame!

2. Locker Love Fest – Come on, admit it. Didn’t listening to Gruden gush over the Tennessee Titans’ surprising choice of Washington QB Jake Locker have you groaning, too, “Enough already, Chuckie!”? Gruden may have admitted to being a Locker Stalker; but his effusive compliments of the Titans’ pick beckoned for his broadcast buddies to berate him. But both Bermen and Piper remained silent.

3. Shut Down Corner – LSU’s super-freakishly talented CB Patrick Peterson could have become this NFL Draft’s iconic player had he set the standard in shutting down the ubiquitous cell phones in the Green Room at Radio City Music Hall. The sea of cell phones growing out of the ears of anxiously awaiting players was obnoxious. How annoying to watch ESPN’s less- than-scintillating coverage of Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, Nick Fairley and scores of Generation TEXTers who barely connected with fans on the other side of the TV screen.

4. The 2011 Diva Wide Re-cei-vah – ESPN’s broadcast booth was mute when Roger Goodell announced an explicably unexcited Julio Jones as the Falcons’ #1 pick. Too bad Matt Ryan wasn’t there to ping a pass off Jones’ dreadlocked head. Was it just me who thinks Julio Jones is the Des Bryant of this year’s draft? The WR Jones appears likely to follow in the self-absorbed footsteps of guys like Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall and Braylon Edwards.

5. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Obligatory Hug – How could the ESPN broadcasting trio continuously overlook the obvious irony as Goodell graciously bear-hugged all first round draft picks on Radio City’s center stage? Hadn’t DeMaurice Smith’s influence reached far enough to apprise the new draftees that last night’s paternal Roger Goodell would become tomorrow’s anti-Christ? Hadn’t NFLPA reps educated them that Goodell is the notorious nemesis in the work stoppage battle that could bar them from reaping future millions from NFL owners?

Nonetheless, NFL Draft Day 1 continued unabated. ESPN commentators never referenced the 800 lb. gorilla that loomed over the cavernous room within Radio City Music Hall.

As ESPN’s coverage of NFL Draft Days 2 and 3 continues later today, Messrs. Berman, Kiper and Gruden are now officially on the clock. Let them pick or select from the following:

1.) add some sizzle and controversy to an otherwise lackluster Day 1 coverage.
2.) and smack the 800 lb. gorilla squarely in the chops.

Straight talk. No static.

MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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