The NFL Draft: Football's Dog And Pony Show
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The 78th Annual National Football League players' selection meeting, what you probably think of as the NFL draft, well, it wrapped up yesterday. And NPR's Mike Pesca, who is our top pick, was monitoring as it played out over the last three days.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Ah, thank you.
MARTIN: You're welcome.
PESCA: Its swell to be a top pick
MARTIN: It was close.
PESCA: I'm putting on the WESUN hat right now.
MARTIN: So, three days left of the draft, three days of players ensued, holding and wearing the merch of the new team. What, if anything, did you take away from this spectacle?
PESCA: Terrible TV show. I know I normally come on and talk about sports. But if the NFL wants to make this a TV show, I think we should review it as a TV show. It is a TV show because, obviously, teams have to pick someone. And, you know, if you look, there are some great archival photos of when it took place in a hotel. And it just seemed like, you know, a business having a business meeting. But now it is in primetime...
MARTIN: It's entertainment.
PESCA: Well, I would argue with that. Like, I understand that people love the NFL, and I certainly love the NFL. You're very interested not only in who your team picks but if you're a college fan, you want to see where those guys go. But there are just several aspects of this draft - or the TV show - that don't work, or as entertainment. I mean, the way I look at entertainment, you have to have characters, you have to have conflict and you have to have resolution. At least two of those three things don't happen during the draft. There's conflict. I mean, people argue about it. But it's just lacking, and this year especially was just lacking in characters and there's no resolution.
MARTIN: So, isn't it good in some way because you still care in some way? You have your players that you're rooting for. There's something interesting about that, no?
PESCA: There is, but here's how I'd analyze it. I'd say about 90 percent of the people watching a draft really only know about 10 percent of the players. And you know who Geno Smith is, this big quarterback wound up being taken by the Jets. You know a few of the quarterbacks. But this year, the guys who went were offensive tackles and defensive tackles and a lot of tackles. And I know football's all about tackling. So, as a football or as a sports property, that's totally proper. We should analyze that and think about that. But as entertainment - if they want to hold it up as entertainment - is totally unentertaining. Because these guys won't even be mentioned during the course of a broadcast unless there's a holding penalty. I mean, if you want to argue is this really entertainment or is this a TV show or is it sports, they had a rule this year that the ESPN reporters, who are really good at their job, they couldn't tweet any information they had that have gotten in the way of the official draft announcement. So, you know, if Adam Schefter got a line that the Jets were taking Geno Smith, he wasn't allowed to tweet that out. You had to wait for the drama. So, I think that totally tells you where we are. Is it entertainment or is it TV?
MARTIN: So, there is drama of who the teams will pick. I mean, there's a lot of people out there who make guesses, a lot of people do this for a living, right?
PESCA: That's right. And, you know, I have a huge problem with - some of them are good at their job, and I've been looking at - there are people who've done studies, you know, who were the good prognosticators? And some of them are pretty good. But a lot of them are terrible, and there is no accountability. No one ever goes back and says, oh, remember how certain you were giving the Falcons a C-minus in 2008? Well, guess what? That was the best draft anyone's had in the last five years. And there's just no accountability. There's such strong vociferous, strong opinions and no resolution. And these guys get to keep their job and continue blathering on. Oh, who am I to criticize someone for that?
MARTIN: Do you have a curveball?
PESCA: I do, I do. I think the best NBA playoff game happened yesterday afternoon, late afternoon. The Bulls beat the Nets in three overtimes. Nate Robinson scored 34 points, almost all of it in the fourth quarter and beyond. He scored the most points of any Bulls players, other than Michael Jordan in a single playoff quarter. He has 29 points in the fourth and overtime were the same as LeBron James once had. To find people to compare to Nate Robinson, you have to go through these names like Jordan and LeBron. He was amazing. And the other amazing thing about Nate Robinson; he's five-foot-nine.
PESCA: One of the two shortest players in the NBA.
MARTIN: There's hope for me yet.
PESCA: You're going to do it, Rachel, if they put you in in the fourth.
MARTIN: NPR's Mike Pesca. Thanks so much, Mike.
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MARTIN: You are listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.