No draft dodger, Kiper provides selective service

April 20, 1995|By MILTON KENT

Want to send Mel Kiper Jr.'s blood pressure soaring? Just call him a "draftnik," or imply that his encyclopedic knowledge of all things related to the NFL draft somehow makes him a little, well, different.

"I hate that term 'draftnik.' It's a ridiculous term," said Kiper, who will be a key component of ESPN's 14 hours of NFL draft coverage Saturday and Sunday. "Obviously, if you watch a draft, you're watching an entire season, both college and pro. I try to stay on top of the game, and it's an all-encompassing approach."

All right, so Kiper, a Baltimore native, isn't a draftnik, but what about the people who will actually sit down and watch huge chunks of the draft this weekend, filling out their draft boards and calling their friends about the steal the Washington Redskins pulled off at the fifth position in the sixth round?

Shouldn't these folks get a life, Mel?

"The people who really watch the draft are the people who spend countless hours watching football every weekend. They are watching games from noon Sunday until the last one ends that night," said Kiper. "They recognize that the draft is the start of the season for 1995, and they want to see what kind of losses and gains their team will have."

Obviously, there's someone out there watching, or else ESPN wouldn't already have logged 15 years of draft telecasts, with Kiper involved in 12 of them.

Chris Berman will anchor ESPN's 10-hour coverage, a seven-hour session Saturday and a three-hour block Sunday, both beginning at noon. ESPN2 will take over at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday, with Mike Tirico at the helm.

The networks will dispatch reporters to eight NFL cities to monitor those teams' progress, as well as deploying "war-room" cameras in Dallas, Minnesota and Tampa Bay.

Terps radio coverage

WBAL (1090 AM) has signed with Learfield Communications for three more years as one of the flagship stations of the Maryland radio network, the station announced.

In addition, the school announced that WTOP (1500 AM), a 50,000-watt all-news station in Washington, will be the flagship station in that market, starting this fall, with football broadcasts. Along with WBAL's 50,000-watt power, Maryland games potentially will be heard from Maine to Florida.

As announced before, Johnny Holliday will continue to do play-by-play for men's basketball and football broadcasts, with Gerry Sandusky joining him for color duties for football and Greg Manning performing similar hoops duties. No announcers have been named for the five-game women's basketball package.

Monster truck coverage

If the intricacies of auto racing pass you by at 150 mph, Saturday's NASCAR SuperTruck race from Bakersfield, Calif., to be aired on "Wide World of Sports" (4:30 p.m., Channel 2), might be right up your alley.

Paul Page, one of ABC's racing analysts, said the modified pickup trucks that will run the 62.5-mile event will transmit better visually so that the casual viewer or the person interested in learning the sport will find the race more palatable.

Beyond that, former NFL coach and current Fox football analyst Jerry Glanville, who has been racing since 1957, is entered in Saturday's 125-lap race, and may challenge favorite Mike Skinner, who won the first SuperTruck event in Phoenix this year.

"Jerry hasn't figured out which way to point the truck," said Page, jokingly.

If you've heard Glanville on Sundays, you'll know how accurate that statement is.

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