With the COVID-19 outbreak changing the 2020 NFL Draft, ESPN and NFL Network teamed up to provide joint coverage of the team-building event. The traditional NFL Network host in Rich Eisen was leading the Draft-A-Thon fundraising campaign, so the ESPN crew took over the primary broadcast. Trey Wingo, Mel Kiper Jr., Louis Riddick and Booger McFarland partnered with the Daniel Jeremiah and the other NFL Network analysts to break down every pick.
While this strategy provided a unified front for the viewers normally tasked with picking between broadcasts, it did lead to some criticism. Specifically, many of those tuning into the NFL Draft were put off by ESPN's style of announcing the picks. They didn't appreciate that the analysts immediately began discussing family tragedies and past legal problems prior to mentioning the football skills. These viewers felt that ESPN put more emphasis on players that had witnessed family members die.
While many Twitter users were making jokes about Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his yacht, others were calling out ESPN. They had several critical tweets about the constant focus on tragedy. Although may others did make some jokes about how certain players wouldn't be drafted due to growing up in a "loving household."
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
Draft pick: "I had a tragic death in my family"April 25, 2020
Would love to see the flow chart for ESPN's talking points on draft picks because "personal family tragedy" seems to be way to high— Trevor Cefalu (@Trev_TC3) April 25, 2020
"Yeah but do either of his parents suffer from drug addiction?" - ESPN pic.twitter.com/OMWfv0WHGP— AK47_80 (@AK47_80) April 25, 2020
instead of showing us that horrible smoothie recipe, how come espn didn't share with us some tragedy or addiction that his family endured—ah, i see why...— mike taddow (@taddmike) April 25, 2020
I see ESPN went the NBC Olympics route and are now trying to exploit the worst (or any) personal tragedy each draft pick has endured. #NFLDraft— Toffee Fever (@ToffeeFever) April 25, 2020
I know. Its unbelievable. Seems like every third pick has some tragedy and is espn feels the need to mention immediately after the kid' name is called.— Mad Max Rules (@MadMax5942) April 25, 2020
@astronaut being a player who's gone through this process I would like to know does ESPN and the NFL give you an option to not discuss your past during the draft? Like can you say "I don't want my family tragedy discussed on national television."?— William Edward Stanton (@Darkthrill51) April 25, 2020
ESPN be like: welcome to the NFL! Now we just need to know what school you're from, some stats, oh and what's the most recent personal tragedy you've faced?— Laura Kennedy (@itsgamedaybabe) April 25, 2020
ESPN... Let me tell ya about this players unimaginable tragedy— 🅰️CEYoungOnyx 💽🐑SZN (@YoungOnyxx) April 25, 2020
ESPN "People want to watch sports right now. People want to be entertained and forget about the tragedy in their lives. For each draft pick selected, let's personally highlight the single saddest moment of this young person's life."— Jimmy Weber (@JimmyTheGhost) April 25, 2020
Re: ESPN's "Tragedy Porn" during the NFL draft.
It's a very fine line between providing human interest stories to show adversity players have overcome and just sensationalizing tragedy.
I hope ESPN takes this draft to review where that line is.— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) April 25, 2020
#NFLDraft#NFLdraft2020 #tragedy #espn : "This lineman was drunk the day his mama got out of prison. He went to pick her up in the rain. But before he could get there in his pickup, she was run over by a gosh darned train" pic.twitter.com/IHvACLSkXi— nathan hickey (@nathanhickey10) April 25, 2020
It's beyond disgusting how ESPN has gone about this. It's the best night in these kids lives, and it's an escape for the fans who are going through hard times now. All they've done is highlight tragedy, and talk about the virus non-stop. No escape at all.— Shawn Stein (@shawn2186) April 25, 2020
ESPN NFL Draft Prospect Research Template
- Name, Position, School— Matt Jennings (@MattAJennings) April 25, 2020
- Greatest Personal Tragedy/Most Notable Dead Relative
- 40 time