NFL draft moves to prime time

Ratings in Baltimore expected to be huge

April 22, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

What's happening tonight is either the greatest development since the Internet or another sign of the apocalypse, depending on your point of view.

Now instead of wasting your time watching "Survivor" or some dopey sitcom, you can waste your time watching beefy guys in expensive suits talk on their cell phones and become instant millionaires while a slew of network analysts drone on and on about how tough the beefy guys are and what a great "motor" they have and what a profound impact they'll have on their new teams.

The NFL draft is coming to prime time.

I don't know if this is a sign of progress in our society.

But I plan to watch anyway.

Until I pass out from exhaustion.

I say this because the Ravens, with the 25th pick, probably won't select until around 11:30. And by the time the first round is over, with a couple of beers in me, I could be face-down in a bowl of Doritos.

But if you're a sports fan, it's practically required by law that you watch the draft. And it'll get great ratings, no doubt about it. Especially in a town like Baltimore, where the NFL is practically a religion.

This is a true story: I went to get a hair-

cut a couple of months ago. And the TV in the barbershop was tuned to the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Every customer seemed riveted by the sight of big guys in T-shirts and shorts running 40-yard dashes and doing vertical jumps and bench-presses.

But here's the thing: Even after we finished getting our haircuts, a few of us hung around to watch more of the combine.

Which is when I thought: What has happened to me? Here we are, six months from the start of the season, and I'm sitting in a barbershop with a carpet of dead hair at my feet, watching a bunch of sweaty football players do the three-cone drill.

With this kind of fixation on the NFL, is it any wonder the draft moved to prime time?

Me, I'm just surprised the combine isn't already there, too. But that's probably just around the corner.

Of course, now that the draft has hit the big time, the NFL seems compelled to go Hollywood with the whole thing.

Here's a disturbing line I read in a wire story the other day: "Among the celebrities scheduled to walk the red carpet into Radio City Music Hall are actresses Whoopi Goldberg, Alyssa Milano and weight-loss diva Jillian Michaels … ."

Please. Do we really need a red carpet at the NFL draft?

Much less celebrities like Goldberg, Milano and Michaels walking it?

You want star-power?

Isn't it enough to see the NFL Network's Rich Eisen and his receding hairline? Hate to bring that up.

But my favorite part of the draft involves all the drama in the greenroom, where the projected top picks sit at tables with their families, girlfriends, agents, etc., waiting to see which team will make them wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.

Sure, it was wrenching watching Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn sit there two years ago.

He was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at first. But as one team after another passed on him, he grew more and more uncomfortable-looking, until he finally slinked out of the room and away from the TV cameras.

But generally things don't get that heavy in the greenroom. And some of the moments can be hilarious.

I love it when a player is selected and everyone at his table jumps up to congratulate him, and now his mom is trying to plant a big wet kiss on him, except the guy keeps talking on his cell phone.

And you just know if she wasn't on TV, she'd be smacking the hell out of him.

Anyway, it all begins tonight and continues Friday with the second and third rounds and goes on until, well, the middle of June, I think.

No, we kid. The draft actually ends Saturday with rounds four through seven.

Which raises the question: Do we really need the draft to go on for three days?

The answer, of course, is no.

But this is the NFL. This is must-see TV.

Or so they tell us.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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