One of the biggest changes in NFL Draft coverage over the last couple years has been the networks that televise the event agreeing not to spoil the selections that will come. At one time, the networks were seemingly in competition with each other and with everyone on social media in trying to break the news of who was getting picked when as quickly as possible. While that might lead to some bonus journalism points for ESPN or NFL Network reporters, it definitely hurt the entertainment value of the event.
Well, according to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, ESPN and NFL Network have agreed to not tip picks once again this year for the NFL Draft. While it doesn’t give the likes of Schefter and Mortensen as much to do, it’s a win for fans as the draft has become much more enjoyable in recent years with the drama of the announcement from the podium being restored. And ESPN is going a step further by not letting their employees spoil picks on Twitter as well.
“We will allow our staffers to tweet any behind the scenes conversations teams are having, trade talks, debates, etc., but what we won’t allow is for them to flat out give away draft picks before the commissioner announces them,” Markman said. “As I have said in the past, our viewers have overwhelmingly told us that they do not want us to spoil the drama of the draft in any way. This goes for Twitter, too. I realize that there are those who disagree with this approach, but we are not in the business of angering our loyal viewers and I personally like the unspoiled nature of this event. Fans love sitting on the edge of their seats to hear what the commissioner says. Trust me, Adam Schefter could easily report who each team is going to pick minutes before the commissioner announces it. That would be terrible TV and he has no interest in proving that he could do this anyway.”
Now, there are a couple of disclaimers with this news. First, it was hilarious in years past to watch Chris Berman struggle with this because there were always the picks where he would drop MASSIVELY OBVIOUS HINTS at what was about to come as the commissioner was walking up to the podium. It takes a team effort from everyone involved to succeed at this and I’m guessing Trey Wingo will probably be a bit more restrained as he takes the reins for the first time this year for the whole show.
Second, this agreement only covers the broadcasts of ESPN and NFL Network. Other people who work for other companies are not bound by it. Yes, that means you need to make a choice of whether or not to stay off social media for risk of having those picks spoiled for you. Jason La Canfora has been the most notable person who has been involved in pick tipping over the years and judging by his recent Twitter history, he’s already ready for the fight.
Those reporters and insiders aren’t concerned with preserving the entertainment spectacle of the television event, they’re concerned with breaking news, getting more people to follow them and retweet them, and thereby gaining bigger audiences for their reporting. But it’s not just reporters, we’ve seen owners, family members, and maybe even a war room custodian or two spoil picks on Twitter. If you don’t want to know what’s going to happen, it’s best to just turn off your phone and all your notifications and pretend it’s 1997 while you’re watching. That may be tough to do, but it’s the only way you’ll guarantee it.