The 2020 NFL Draft has seen plenty of unusual things thanks to it being conducted from the homes of everyone involved, but the technical side has largely been okay so far. However, the ESPN/NFL Network broadcast has received a lot of criticism for something in the editorial realm rather than the technical realm; their insistence on bringing up tragedies in many players’ family histories. Here are some of the many, many tweets on that:
If the NFL Draft graphics from last night were for superheroes, this is what they'd look like pic.twitter.com/HTvJ3cwwVN
— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) April 24, 2020
ESPN NFL Draft producers when they find out a draft pick grew up in a loving household with both parents present pic.twitter.com/yLDP0UmEsb
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) April 25, 2020
is this the NFL draft or an obituary? jk, kind of not
— Shannon B. Terry (@sbterry247) April 25, 2020
My dad died when I was a teenager and my brother died in a war, please draft me @NFL
— Tom Knox (@venerableknox) April 25, 2020
ESPN: Let me tell you about this draft prospect’s worst childhood trauma
— Cameron Magruder (@ScooterMagruder) April 24, 2020
ESPN would’ve loved me in the NFL draft, I’ve got tons of childhood trauma.
— T (@Mad_Dad2020) April 25, 2020
ESPN: His dad died from blunt force trauma from a sausage biscuit in a prison food fight, so he has a tattoo of Jimmy Dean to commemorate his legacy. #NFLDraft
— Lord Pyrex 🇳🇬 (@iLikeIke_) April 25, 2020
ESPN is really going all in on the trauma porn apparently.
Capitalizing off of someone's tragedy. Terrible #NFLDraft
— Embraced by the Mafia, The parade let me down (@TEZforPREZ) April 25, 2020
Tonight we should take a shot every time ESPN brings up family trauma of an NFL draft prospect. pic.twitter.com/3qd2edT8ff
— Man on a Mission (@Supeprime) April 24, 2020
ESPN, for every damn pick this weekend:
"The Bills select, John Smith, wide receiver, Ohio State. Explosive route runner, great hands… but first let's tell you about his Great Aunt Tilly, who died in a tragic dirt biking accident when he was nine."
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) April 24, 2020
ESPN dug deep. Couldn’t play up the rags-to-riches angle with Michael Pittman Jr. because he comes from money. Couldn’t find any cringeworthy childhood trauma. So, they just threw in the fact he has a stuttering problem at the end of his draft montage. #NFLDraft
— Nick Birdsong (@birds_word) April 24, 2020
"hey, I know you happy and all, but here's a reminder of your family trauma" – ESPN #NFLDraft
— Sunny Singh (@2CupzSunny) April 24, 2020
Some of these stories were about immediate family deaths, but some went further afield still to extended family and to all sorts of highly questionable content. One particularly-bashed one was the decision to discuss Clemson receiver Tee Higgins’ mother’s struggles with drug addiction:
@espn this is disgusting on your part, Tee Higgins is enjoying his entrance to the NFL. And y’all have to announce his personal family business, by putting his moms drug addiction battle. Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves. pic.twitter.com/0oO1LbVZGr
— Roy Resendez (@royresendez32) April 24, 2020
Can ESPN just focus on the athletes and not so much on players traumatic backgrounds. Tee Higgins just got drafted and they talk about his mom drug addiction.
— Rashawn Williams (@cant_stop_ray) April 24, 2020
#NFLDraft2020 ~Tee Higgins is selected first overall in the 2nd round
ESPN~His mom was a drug addict for 16 years!
Assholes, just assholes 😑
— Kev (@NDrules43) April 24, 2020
ESPN DRAFT PROFILE
Name: Tee Higgins
Strengths: Ridiculous hands, huge catch radius
Personal: As a child watched the vicious landlord Chiu-Feng slaughter his entire family, lives only for vengeance against the dastardly land barons of Sichuan province
— BUM CHILLUPS (@edsbs) April 24, 2020
is the fourth of four facts ESPN can come up with about Tee Higgins that his mom fought drug addiction for 16 years? Why is this draft like this?
— Sloane (@ohsloane) April 24, 2020
— Nolan Hughes (@NoNoNolanHughes) April 24, 2020
Trey Wingo talking about Tee Higgins’ mom: pic.twitter.com/iWmCMEXa6J
— FGB (@FiftyGutBlog) April 24, 2020
“Get To Know Tee Higgins!”
ESPN: Mom can’t lay off the crack. We’ll see how that affects his career. pic.twitter.com/OE0RkF0gew
— Kyle (@KyleWooderboys) April 24, 2020
That one certainly does seem exceptionally questionable. That’s not a notable fact about Higgins at all, and it seems unfortunate to relay his mother’s past struggles in public on this kind of a platform. But this was just one of the many, many times the ESPN/NFL Network broadcast dove into trauma porn on days one and two of the draft. And while those networks have done that at times before, it’s felt particularly over-the-top this year. We’ll see if that continues during the third day of the draft.