×

NFL Draft Coverage Displays League’s Mystifying Power

“We’re into this thing a little over an hour. How do you like it so far?” Chris Berman bellowed during the opening portion of ESPN’s NFL draft coverage, traditionally one of the more mystifying displays of the league’s almost cult-like hold over a segment of the audience.

Even as a sports fan, I’d like it a whole lot better if you’d stop screaming at the top of your lungs, Chris.

But that’s what the NFL draft is — a shout-it-from-the-mountaintop demonstration of pro football’s ability to attract viewers in a gaudy manner that dwarfs all other sports in the U.S., and which thus invites the kind of marathon coverage and hyperbole that draft week engenders. Last year’s draft averaged more than 8 million viewers, a 16% surge over 2011.

Perhaps the strangest part of the draft, invariably, is the audience reaction, as the crowd cheers or (more often) boos as each name is announced, as if they were absolutely stunned that the Jets would draft Alabama’s Dee Milliner with the ninth pick in the first round. As opposed to, um, who?

The number of players drafted in the non-glamor positions makes much of the analysis seem particularly silly, which hasn’t stopped ESPN from taping video of them posing and posturing, as if this were a sequel to “X-Men: First Class” — which, in a way, it sort of is.

Perhaps nothing quite tops the banality of sitting down (or actually, standing up) these 20-something soon-to-be-millionaires and throwing content-free questions at them — a distraction, really, from unleashing the in-studio team to start waxing eloquent about their 40-yard-dash times.

Hey, I get it, marquee draft picks are a big part of replenishing any NFL franchise. And who doesn’t love football, except perhaps for all the former players suing the league for the toll they saying playing exacted upon them.

Still, given the level of padding and endless blather as minutes drag by between sightings of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce the next selection, if you watch more than three picks consecutively without having extensively sampled the night’s sponsor Bud Light, it’s probably time for an intervention.

“Five lineman in the top 10 picks. Hello!” Berman ejaculated.

Actually, goodbye. (Click.)

Popular on Variety

More Voices

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renée Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Barry Bill Hader

    Emmys 2019: Clear Favorites and Top Challengers for This Year's Winners (Column)

    If this felt like the longest, most expensive Emmy campaign in history, you might be right. For one thing, the 2019 Primetime Emmys will be held Sept. 22, which is the latest the ceremony has taken place since 2013. That also happened to be the last year of TV’s quaint, pre-streaming era, before outlets like [...]

  • Fleabag Succession Emmys

    Could 'Fleabag' and 'Succession' Be Spoilers on Emmy Night? (Column)

    At the onset, this year’s Emmy Awards felt a bit anticlimactic, as the final seasons of “Game of Thrones” and “Veep” appeared to have this year’s drama and comedy categories locked up before campaigning even began. But that’s how upsets happen: Just when we’re pretty confident about how things might go, a couple of wild [...]

  • Climate Mobilization

    Marshall Herskovitz: Why the Climate Crisis Needs Movie Marketing-Style Muscle

     I’ve lived inside the climate-communications conundrum for 20 years, working with scientists, academics and activists to find ways to convince Americans that something they couldn’t see or feel was nevertheless a looming catastrophe worth upending their lives to fight. Now the climate crisis is undeniable, and we are finally seeing the beginnings of concerted action. [...]

  • Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver Gain Oscar

    Telluride: Oscar Buzz Builds For Renée Zellweger, Adam Driver and 'The Two Popes'

    This year’s Telluride Film Festival began on Thursday with the Guest/Patron Brunch on a private estate about a 30-minute drive from the center of town. Eggs, bacon and fruit salad were being served as the sun was shining on Martin Scorsese, Adam Driver, Noah Baumbach, Laura Dern, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Ken Burns, Ric Burns, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content