Watch 10 Hours Of Nfl Draft Programming - Before It Starts

ON MEDIA

April 24, 2009|By RAY FRAGER | RAY FRAGER,ray.frager@baltsun.com

This week's sports media notes from the war room while I'm on the clock making a reach:

* How big is NFL draft day coverage? The draft "pre-game" now is almost as long as the Super Bowl's.

On Saturday, ESPN starts its five hours of preview programming at 11 a.m. before it carries the actual draft - for the 30th year! - at 4 p.m. from Radio City Music Hall. Coverage runs until 9 on ESPN, then switches to ESPN2 until the second round ends. ESPN has the rest of the draft from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

We're sorry to hear Draft Expert 1.0 Mel Kiper Jr. and Draft Expert 2.0 Todd McShay won't be at the same location. The two will have to conduct their often contentious discussions - nearly on the level of the old "Jane, you ignorant slut" Saturday Night Live bit - connected only electronically, with Kiper in New York and McShay in Bristol, Conn.

The on-site programming is anchored by Chris Berman, joined by Kiper, Keyshawn Johnson and Steve Young. Elsewhere at Radio City, Trey Wingo, Herm Edwards and Chris Mortensen hold court. Erin Andrews conducts green-room interviews and makes you glad the telecast is in high definition.

* Your other option for draft day is the NFL Network - Comcast customers, this could be your last weekend with the channel before the plug gets pulled May 1 - which also is running a five-hour pre-draft show Saturday. The NFL Network will be staffed by enough on-air personalities at Radio City to fill in for the Rockettes: Rich Eisen, Mike Mayock, Charles Davis, Steve Mariucci, Jon Gruden, Charley Casserly, Brian Billick, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders and Jamie Dukes.

The channel promises live looks from the St. Louis Rams' war room during the draft. If you see the Rams staff order toasted ravioli, that means the club is picking offensive tackle Jason Smith.

* Billick, who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks who don't pan out, said this about the gamble of taking one in the first round (via a Fox news release): "There was no reason to believe at this point before the draft in their process that David Carr, Ryan Leaf and Joey Harrington couldn't have become elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Imagine the conversation with your owner if you're the Detroit Lions after taking Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall. If you're going to be totally transparent and honest with your owner, you've got to say: 'We've got our guy; we've got our quarterback. He's got less than a 50 percent chance of making it, and, by the way, you've got to give him $40 million guaranteed.' That's a tough conversation to have."

* During Sunday's 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. SportsCenter shows, ESPN will profile O.J. Brigance, Ravens director of player development, who has been an inspiration to the team during his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

* The Baltimore hockey audience, sensing the urgency of Game 4 in the Washington Capitals' playoff series with the New York Rangers, turned out in force in front of its television sets - at least, what qualifies as in force for Baltimore and hockey.

Wednesday's game on Comcast SportsNet drew 2.3 percent of the audience, about 25,000 homes. That was more than double Monday's rating of 1.0 (11,000 homes). The Caps couldn't quite beat the NBA playoff game airing on TNT at the same time, Atlanta Hawks-Miami Heat, which got 2.9 (32,000). On Monday, TNT's Chicago Bulls-Boston Celtics telecast dunked all over the Caps, with a 5.9 (65,000).

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