Cavalcade of Whimsy - The 2010 NFL Draft
Chris Berman & Jon Gruden
Chris Berman & Jon Gruden
Posted Apr 27, 2010

Oh, it did not go well. From Chris Berman's mistakes, to Jon Gruden screaming about THIS GUY, to a quirky bout of bigotry from Matt Millen, ESPN's 2010 NFL Draft reality show had a little something for everyone. Check out Pete Fiutak's take on the draft coverage in an off-season Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

April 27 - NFL Draft

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season 
- Jan 19, Part 1 - Oh those wacky coaches 
- Jan 19, Part 2 - The sucky 2009 season 
By Pete Fiutak

- April 27 - Part 2 The ten NFL Draft things to be grouchy about 

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … I'm not an H-Back, I'm not a tight end, and I'm not a special teamer. I'm a quarterback, and that's all I'm going to do.

And with it come the keys to a brand new Toyota Camry! ... Congratulations, Denver Broncos. You just drafted the first ever first round Mr. Irrelevant.

BRIAN: Look. You've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!
FOLLOWERS: Yes, we're all individuals!
BRIAN: You're all different!
FOLLOWERS: Yes, we are all different!
DENNIS: I'm not. ...
From Tim Tebow: "I'm going to give my heart and soul to an organization."

What am I supposed to believe in now? Didn't Tebow preach over the last four years (complete with now-outlawed eye black) that we're supposed to trust in the Lord with all our hearts? Instead, now that he wants to be an NFL quarterback, he's going to lean on the understanding of Josh McDaniels and in all ways acknowledge him and let him direct his paths?! Be not wise in your own eyes, Tim; the guy traded Cutler.

And to all of those quarterbacks (Jimmy, Dan, Colt, and Jevan) who slid down the draft and reasoned the freefall to some sort of grand design, despite what you might be thinking, believing, and praying for, God's Plan for you might involve selling insurance.

And maybe they can vacation in Hawaii and watch Chris Berman and Andy Reid go swimming … Why does everyone feel the need to make excuses for Tebow? He's a big boy and he's now a professional with millions of dollars involved, so why is it necessary for anyone in the media to apologize after saying anything remotely negative about the Gator legend?

"Tebow needs about three to five years before he can be considered a possible NFL quarterback, and even then his muscle memory from years and years of bad mechanics and poor passing skills will still likely catch up to him. But he's the type of guy you'd like to marry your daughter. In fact, if he wants to marry my daughters right now, fine by me. He's so special and is such a positive influence around a locker room that he can marry my son, too. Actually (dropping down to one knee), Tim, will you marry me? Get out of the way, Urban. Tim, come lead my football team. I don't care that you lock on to one receiver like Gabourey Sidibe on a Double Down, just forgive me for questioning your drop down throwing motion. Tim … TIM!!!"

McAvoy: "These fans didn't pay thirty bucks to watch a tour star lay up on a short part five." ...

Any and all of my criticisms of ESPN don't stem from petty jealousies (as spouted by many not inside the Bristol family) or from a mean-spirited, shooting-fish-in-barrel, bloggy place (like the Deadspins of the world). I have more of a feeling of deeply profound disappointment and a longing for something better.

ESPN is bound by nothing. It has the audience, it has the attention, and it has the ability to do whatever it wants to in the coverage of the biggest sports events. But the talent level and the overall product continue to be Pablum at best and unwatchable to the point of crushing the sports spirit at worst.

And then there was the coverage of the 2010 NFL Draft.

It was said by many that the draft is among the best reality shows going, but none are better than the party train that kicked off in prime time last Thursday night and kept on rolling through pick 255. It had a little something for everyone.

Total incompetence, bloopers galore, a dash of bigotry, an Oscars-like, canned-voice lady teasing into the breaks (up next, Julia Roberts presenting the award for the Best Non-Bradford/Tebow Quarterback To Go Off The Board), guy talk so bad it would make a Dockers ad blush, and football analysis so canned and so contrived that it was impossible to look away for fear of missing the next Max Power-like fondue spill on the nuclear control panel.

Instead of understanding the audience and accepting that the NFL Draft is Comi-Con for football geeks and junkies, ESPN rolls out its A lister football guys when it should be in full-blown wonk mode. Fortunately, for those of us perverse enough to want to see the car hit the wall, we were treated to pure, unadulterated shark jumping at its finest.

Yes, you can check out any time you like, and yes, you can leave ... Chris Berman should never be permitted to interview anyone, or even ask a question, ever again. Forget about talking to sports personalities; Berman shouldn't be allowed to ask about the daily special, he shouldn't be able to inquire what time the movie starts, and he shouldn't even be able to ask if you want fries with that. The guy cannot get out a coherent question.

Just like Robin Williams talks really, really fast to hide the painful truth that he's not funny, and like the NBA tries to bombard the senses at every possible moment to keep fans from noticing the mind-numbing boredom of the product, Berman tries to distract from his lack of football knowledge by screaming, using the same tired 1970's music references, and/or breaking into one of his indistinguishable NFL voices that don't really have any frame of reference.

To be fair, Berman has a ton of stuff thrown at him all at once when the bullets of the draft start flying, but Trey Wingo didn't have any problems when he got to be the emcee, and Mike Tirico wouldn't have rumbled, stumbled and bumbled the job if he was the one directing traffic. At this point, Berman's biggest problem is that he can't handle the workload of an ace anymore, and he needs to be used like Carlos Zambrano and moved to deal with the eighth inning.

Berman, because he isn't a commentator and he has to do the heavy lifting, hasn't made the transition into a cute legend like Dick Vitale has. Instead, the act has made the run from worn out to distracting to incompetent. Vitale might have lost something off the fastball, but it's almost forgivable because you know the promotional agenda and you know that, for all his faults, he simply loves college basketball. With Berman, there isn't a sense that he cares enough because he doesn't appear to do enough homework. Case in point …

Hasseldorf: "The hostages should be going through the early stages of the Helsinki Syndrome."
Harvey: "As in Helsinki, Sweden." ...
Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews was a huge pick for San Diego at the 12 considering head coach Norv Turner has already said his new back will be getting around 300 touches this year. It was a key moment in the first round, and Berman's schtick ended up getting in the way.

Instead of playing it straight and diving into the importance of the pick to a team that got the right guy at the right time, Berman, who also goes by his "Jersey Shore" nickname, The Caricature, decided to go all Bermany and yelled, "And there goes Big Mathews." Since Mathews is a bigger back than the other top running back prospects, Clemson's C.J. Spiller and Cal's Jahvid Best, it did make sense to refer to his size, but it was hard to tell exactly what Berman said. In the haste, Tom Jackson and Mel Kiper, who obviously thought Berman said the wrong first name, quickly tried to pick up the slack by saying that San Diego had drafted RYAN Mathews, but at that point the moment had passed.

And then came the mother of all Berman biffs. Again slipping into character, instead of letting the excitement create the moment, Berman started screaming when Dallas suddenly and dramatically traded up to get Dez Bryant, the immensely talented, somewhat troubled wide receiver out of Oklahoma State.

Trying to come up with a One Small Step For Do You Believe In Miracles line, Berman bellowed out, "Jerry Jones … Oklahoma State … Dez Bryant … Okla … errr …uhhh," pausing as someone had to be screaming into his earpiece, "JONES WENT TO ARKANSAS!" The line should've connected the Cowboys of Oklahoma State to the Cowboys of Dallas, but in the heat of the moment, the star of the show wilted yet again.

Fortunately for Berman, his disaster of a performance flew under the radar compared to …

"See you at the club. See you at the club. See you at the club, Tommy! Hey Tom, what'd you shoot today, pal?" ...
However bad your day might going, and as much as you might hate what you have to do to try to earn a buck, sleep well tonight secure in the knowledge that you're better at whatever you're doing, whatever you want to do, and whatever you could ever attempt to do, than Jon Gruden is at being a draft analyst.

No one better sums up just how disappointing ESPN is, and all the failed promise it holds, than Gruden, who should be fantastic but is nothing more than a play-it-safe cliché auditioning for his next coaching job. Gruden the coach would've destroyed half the prospects taken in the first round, but Gruden the analyst got lazy and maudlin when it came to breaking down the top picks by throwing out a steady string of "this is MY guy," and "this is a player, RIGHT HERE," and "I'm FIRED up," schlock.

Jon, the Philadelphia Eagles just shocked the world and traded up to draft a half-empty bottle of warm Yoo-Hoo with the 13th overall pick.

"Let me tell you something about Yoo-Hoo, this guy CAN PLAY. This is MY GUY right here. Let me tell you, I can coach THIS GUY. I'M FIRED UP. I'd love to have Yoo-Hoo on my team, let me tell you. This was a great pick because THIS GUY CAN PLAY, let me tell you. WOW! THAT'S A LOW PRICE! THIS, now THIS, is my GUY. I … am … fired … UP!"

The punchline is that I'm not really embellishing. And to make matters worse when it comes to credibility, the sound was on far too often coming out of breaks catching Gruden (and some of the others) saying things like, "is that a defensive tackle."

Someday, Gruden will be done with coaching and he'll be a terrific analyst when he's not up for a job interview. Until then, he needs to be stopped and he needs to be stopped now. And then there's the curious case of …

"No, no, I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. Leave me alone....yet, I find you strangely attractive."...
Steve Young actually has a brain in his head. It's a bit scrambled after suffering some concussions, but he has a law degree, gives some thought before thinking, and is a real, live football critical thinker. Even so, he's still not immune to falling into the same traps the rest of the Jockocracy does.

Colt McCoy is a great guy. Personality-wise, he has a real deal combination of "aw shucks" and on-field sh**kicker that NFL teams love, but that doesn't mean he can play.

In the harsh reality of the NFL, your favorite team has at least three guys worthy of consideration for People Magazine's Most Miserable Human Being Alive, but it doesn't matter if they're really good at playing football. You take the high character try-hards, I'll take the Hitler Youth with the elite skills, and you'll be reading a My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student bumper sticker as you look up at the truck that made you a speed bump.

Young basically said that he didn't think McCoy could play in the NFL, and then everything changed after he saw the highlight reel and got a chance to talk to the Texas legend. The high-character quality only counts when it applies to the top-shelf players; it's a tie-breaker, not a requirement.

We expect a certain level of incompetence when it comes to the talking heads who don't really know college football. And then there's …

"The tartar sauce, the bathroom key, drying your boss's hands! You did it all! It was never the hair! You did it because you could and you still can." ...
Mel Kiper is just okay when it comes to his analysis and talent evaluation, but he's an institution and the ESPN telecast really should be all about him … until he says something like this.

"(Colt McCoy) didn't have tremendous talent around him."

Uhhhh, Mel. Texas?! You know, like, the Texas that played in the national championship, won the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and went 45-8 over the last four years. McCoy was a four-year starter from 2006 to 2009 and he played with 21 players (not including himself) who were drafted. Oklahoma had 19 players drafted during that same span, Ohio State 22, and Florida 23.

To be fair, I sort of understand what Kiper might have been trying to say. Texas didn't have the greatest of offensive lines, the running game was abandoned because McCoy was so good, and most of the players drafted were from the defensive side, but still, Texas has been nothing but talent, at least at the collegiate level. Most quarterbacks would've killed to have the defense and the five-star prep offensive superstars that McCoy got to work with.

Q: How do you keep Matt Millen busy all day?
A: Put him in a round room and tell him to go stand in the corner. …
Half-Polish and with family ties to Buffalo, I can say with authority that Matt Millen calling Ron Jaworski "any Pollock from Buffalo," along with a half-hearted, unapologetic apology that he was forced to give about an hour later, didn't offend me in any way. I was more put off by the idea of Millen being allowed to give an opinion on anything surrounding the NFL Draft.

- April 27 - Part 2 The ten NFL Draft things to be grouchy about