After making Mark Ingram cry, Suzy Kolber takes some criticism


Mark Ingram was one of the most-watched players at this year’s NFL draft, as a well-known Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama who stayed in the green room longer than expected before the New Orleans Saints finally picked him at No. 28. But what really has people talking after the draft is the interview Ingram gave to ESPN’s Suzy Kolber minutes after his name was called.

Ingram’s father, also named Mark Ingram, was also the 28th pick in the NFL draft, in 1987. But Ingram Sr. couldn’t be there with his son on Thursday night because he’s serving time in prison for money laundering and fraud. Kolber had corresponded with Ingram Sr. prior to the draft, and she read Ingram Jr. an e-mail from his father while they stood on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. Hearing what his father had to say left Ingram Jr. sobbing, and he couldn’t continue the interview.

To some, it was a powerful moment of raw emotion. To others, it was manipulative. Author and Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman wrote on his blog that he thought ESPN had crossed a line with the interview.

“You don’t spring this sort of letter upon a 21-year-old kid on national TV,” Pearlman wrote. “It might make for great viewing, but it’s dishonest, dishonorable and wrong. This is the life he’s been handed—a father behind bars; trying to overcome that and somehow get past it. He should be celebrated. Not exploited.”

Pearlman was joined by, among others, Pete Prisco of CBS, who called Kolber’s interview “an ambush of sorts.” Florio mentioned to me that Kolber used the same perky nonchalance when asking Patriots lineman Marcus Cannon about his cancer diagnosis.

Toni Monkovic has video at the New York Times‘ Fifth Down blog of Kolber’s interview, which has been one of the most-discussed moments of the NFL draft. From the perspective of the folks in Bristol, the mere fact that it’s being discussed may mean the interview was a hit.

ESPN’s Jay Rothman told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated that he thought Kolber’s interview was not manipulative in the least.

“There was not an iota of that at all,” Rothman said. “It was more from the perspective of being able to celebrate, knowing the story and knowing what a great kid he was. I’m a proud parent and many of us here are, and it was an opportunity to share a special moment with a kid. There was no contrived or manufactured intent. That was never the thinking. It was a more of a heartfelt thing and genuine. We were not trying to be disingenuous and manufactured. . . . I think the dad wanted that read to him.”

So as far as ESPN is concerned, Kolber did what she was supposed to do. Even if it looked a little like Kevin Nealon as Bob Waltman on Saturday Night Live.

76 responses to “After making Mark Ingram cry, Suzy Kolber takes some criticism

  1. I didn’t realize ESPN was showing the draft, too….was too busy watching it on NFL Network where the real draft analyst works (Mayock).

  2. After the “teaser”, I turned immediately to NFLN.

    I despise ESPN.

  3. It was a really nice moment. Suzy didn’t surprise him with anything negative or pull any sleazy media maneuvers– she did some good reporting and it paid off for all who watched.

  4. It seems what the father wrote was intended for his son and not intended for the general populous.

    ESPN did spring this on Ingram on live television and should have been more sensitive to the situation.

    Good luck to Ingram and hopefully the comparisons to E. Smith are true.

  5. no manufactured intent? it seems like the outcome was entirely manufactured, and by no coincidence..

  6. So the elite sports crowd are turning on Suzy because of her “got you”moment. Isn’t that what all of you elite sports snobs enjoy doing to these athletes?

  7. I have no problem in what she did— You realize those were tears of JOY that he was producing, right?

    Nothing like taking another reporter’s story and making THAT your own story, Pearlman.

  8. Ingram should have wiped his eyes, smiled, and said “OK, Suzi, now I really want to kiss you.” That might have made *her* cry.

  9. I was watching when Ingram got picked and I thought it was the most powerful and coolest moment of the entire night (except for the fact that I’m a Patriots fan and I wished we had drafted Ingram). I don’t see why people are viewing it negatively. Ingram Sr. wrote an email to Suzy Kobler that he wanted read or passed along to his son when he got picked, and that’s what she did. She didn’t break anyone’s trust or exploit anyone, it was a nice moment.

  10. I don’t get the criticism of Kolber, the letter was written by his father. Kolber didn’t decide to spring this on Ingram at that moment, it was written by his father and given to Kolber to read to his son by her at the draft. If you think it was in poor taste, blame Ingram’s father not the messenger. However, I bet Ingram didn’t have a problem with it at all, he was emotional because he and his dad are close and Kolber provided an opportunity for the two to share that draft moment together when they couldn’t physically share the moment together.

  11. If you watched it earlier in the draft she spoke to Mark Ingram on live tv. At that time, she told him that his dad sent suzy an email that HE wanted read to his son, by her presumably, as soon as he was selected. But then again guys who run webites in their basements shouldn’t let facts get in the way.

  12. Suzy did nothing wrong at all. It’s not her fault Mark Ingram’s daddy is a convict. It also isn’t her fault that Mark Ingram is a cry baby.

    This guy is as soft as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

  13. What is dishonest is ESPN 100% contacted his dad about doing this. Are we really to believe that Ingram Sr called up ESPN, “hey got this great idea to make my son cry right after he is drafted?” There is no way that was what Marks father intended for his son in that moment!

    Why couldn’t his dad have emailed Mark or someone a the table and he could have gotten the message 3 minutes later and not in front of millions of people?

  14. Classic case of pathological behavior. The Donald should consider Suzy for his running mate.

  15. I actually came to like Ingram more than I already did when he reacted that way. I see nothing wrong with what Kolber did, and I would have a hard time believing anyone would find Ingram’s reaction anything but compelling and appropriate.

    That was probably my favorite moment of the draft, to be honest. Ingram has worked hard, and he showed his humanity to us. That was a rare display, and I’m thankful for it.

    Anyone who criticizes Kolber could potentially have a point, but the point is that she didn’t do anything negative toward Ingram, and nothing he did should be seen as anything but a positive in the eyes of anyone who saw it.

  16. The only opinion that matters is Mark Ingrams’. If he is upset than Kolber should apologize. If not, move on. Ingram is a great kid with alot on his plate. Not being a Bama fan, I became an Ingram fan the night he won the Heisman after listening to his trophy acceptance speech. Only Kolber knows what her real motivation was, but as a fan, I appreciated the moment.

  17. Crying off the field has nothing to do with softness as a football player. On the field, he’s plenty tough, and certainly could kick your *ss on OR off the field.

    And if he read your post, he’d thoroughly enjoy doing it.

  18. Suzy Kolber did a GREAT job!

    For this to be an issue – I didn’t even know it was an issue until I read this crap – is really idiotic.

  19. whatswiththehate says: May 2, 2011 3:02 PM

    So the elite sports crowd are turning on Suzy because of her “got you”moment. Isn’t that what all of you elite sports snobs enjoy doing to these athletes?

    Is that you Sarah Palin?

  20. Thanks for another reason to be glad about not watching ESPN’s NFL draft coverage. It is unsurpassed as a clown act–with the the chief and most obnoxious clowns being Berman and Kiper.

  21. The media being sensationalistic, exploitive, and emotionally manipulative? No way!

  22. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says:
    May 2, 2011 3:06 PM
    Suzy did nothing wrong at all. It’s not her fault Mark Ingram’s daddy is a convict. It also isn’t her fault that Mark Ingram is a cry baby.

    This guy is as soft as the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
    Easy for an anonymous poster to say. Look, criticizing a guy’s football skills objectively is one thing, but it takes a small person to say what you’re saying.

  23. Right when she began to read the letter to Ingram, me and my buddy both commented at the same time that the move was classless.

    Nice Job Kolber.

  24. @fease79: Seriously, that’s exactly what I thought! And how/why did it go to ESPN/Kolber, not a relative? Something smells.

  25. Since when did INMATES EMAILS become private!?!

    A) I can not believe he has access to email

    B) Why would ANYONE assume the email should be private

    C) She did her JOB!

  26. It certainly crosses a journalistic line when the reporter injects themselves in to the story they’re covering.

    Unless Mark Jr. isn’t speaking with Sr., Suzy was an unnecessary intermediate step in correspondence and therefore one can accuse her of manufacturing the moment on live TV for her (and her network’s) gain.

    Dirty pool Suzy, dirty pool.

  27. I felt that she did catch him off guard. I think if those two talk it out everything will be fine.

    Kolber should’ve spoken about the email with Mark, Jr. before the event’s proceedings. But I’m sure she meant no lack of respect to him.

  28. I agree with cengleman93, this should have been done in the back, not for everybody to see.

    This was probably an ESPN decision to show and Suzy Kolber has to take the critcism.

  29. All the interview needed to be more hokey was Mel Kiper Jr. playing the violin at her side.

  30. An hour before Ingram was picked Kolber was standing right next to him when she said she has a letter from his father she would read later.

    There is no doubt Ingram knew about it ahead of time, she told him live on TV about it.

    You can’t exploit a willing person.

  31. I felt like when Jim whatshisface interviewed Pete Rose that year at the all-star game and turned it into a circus on him……But now I read many postings here saying the kid new it was coming, so……

  32. Suzy the floozy, gossipy and newsy,
    Kiissshhhed the boys and made them cry.

  33. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden was unavailable for comment on the situation.

  34. Whats this? ESPN becoming the story, instead of reporting the story?

    I find this very had to believe in light of comments made by the ESPN ombudsman after their scandalous coverage of Spygate.

  35. They can’t compete with the NFL network and that was bush league buy espn. The kids emotional enough getting drafted. Sometimes trying for ratings can go to far, I’m surprised u didn’t pull a Jerry Springer and get his dads prison gaurd to interview him………..toilet have won the ratings game but u lost me and I’m sure alot more viewers……………….

  36. Not a damn thing wrong with that. Obviously the father and son love each other and Suzy passed on a message. I think Mark liked the letter and the emotion came out. Real stuff there folks.

  37. Ingram is bullied and teased mercilessly by the other Heisman winners. His Dad was the only one dumb enough to do time for his crimes.

  38. As I read your article, kept thinking “How did I miss this when I watched Mark the whole time?!?”

    Because as someone else said, I was on the NFL Network where Mayock was providing actual draft analysis. Now that I’ve seen the clip, of course, the moment was contrived and achieved its desired effect. It’s typical of what we see on ESPN these days.

  39. There was no contrived or manufactured intent. That was never the thinking. It was a more of a heartfelt thing and genuine. We were not trying to be disingenuous and manufactured. . . . I think the dad wanted that read to him.”

    You are in contact before the draft. You get the letter before the draft. You wait until he is drafted. You wait until the interview after he is drafted. Then you read it to him for the first time on national TV.

    Yeah, not contrived or manufactured at all, completely genuine /sarcasm.

    PS – I am sure his dad wanted the letter read to. Just likely not to his son on national TV by a “journalist” who took it upon herself to hold the letter until that point in time.

  40. Hyperbole!

    First of all his Father sent it to her, so she could read it to him. It is not like she obtained a copy of the E mail from a source.

    Secondly, those were tears of joy, not sorrow.

    Thirdly, whe never mentioned anything about his father being in jail and what he was convicted of.

    I am not an ESPN fan, but this bashing of them is not called for in this case.

  41. That was one of the few things I saw on ESPN (I watched NFL Network). The interview only served to increase my respect for Mark Ingram. Notice the people making the claims are competitors.

  42. Mark Ingram’s father played in the NFL for 10 years. He understands what the media is all about. If he didn’t want it to be publicly read on live tv, then he would have never sent it to Kolber.

    It was a very real moment that does not often get captured on television for others to see. It should have touched the hearts of all fathers out there.

  43. Pearlman, of all people, thinks what a media member did was “dishonest, dishonorable, and wrong”? Pot, please meet kettle.

  44. Let’s put the ESPN Draft Coverage into it’s proper perspective. Ratings count more than anything else. All who come to Radio City Music Hall become part of the spectacle. Everyone from the drunks in the balcony to the college athletes sitting in the Green Room are there to be seen and heard on national television.

    Ingram Sr. found another way to become famous by embarrass his son by sending Suzy Kolber an emotional e-mail, which he requested be read too his son by her. Ingram Jr. invited her to read the e-mail merely by being there and granting her an interview.

    In a day and age where web sites and newspapers reveal military secrets, no one should be suprised that Suzy gave both father and son the fifteen minutes of fame they both wanted. Watch what you wish for; you might just get it!

  45. ESPN lost me years ago when they decided that I had to pay for ‘insider’ content on their website. Buh bye losers.

  46. sj39 says:
    May 2, 2011 3:05 PM
    Who need ESPN? We have the NFL network.

    Unless you are a peasant of the Time Warner Cable Empire (Me) 🙁

  47. This was supposed to be Mark Jr’s moment and NOT Mark Sr’s. That makes ESPN wrong (and sensationalists) just for starters.

    Kolber is either a puppet or a puppeteer, either way she got into the self important mode which is cringe worthy and embarrassing.

    Pre-arranged emotional moments are cheesy way of doing business. Fer shame…

  48. Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a dumb t**t…I feel the same way about Floozy Kolber…what she knows about football can be inscribed on the head of a pin…the only reason she’s on ESPN is simple political correctness and to appeal to the female fans. She adds nothing to the conversation and she is beneath contempt for this cheap trick.

  49. …she should have at least given him a KISS to make him (or b’way joe) feel better…

  50. I’m with Namath on this one, I think Suzy Kolber is hot. I really didn’t pay attention to the interview, I just wanted to kiss her. 😀

  51. She was doing her job. He showed some raw emotion. Good for both of them. What’s wrong with the people posting that a little girl made a grown man cry? So what.

  52. Suzy sux..
    she is terrible at everything she does. I hated when i was a kid and she would do the X games and throw out words like “MONDOE” and “STOKED”
    she had to know someone to land that job.. she has zero talent and sounds like a man.. she makes sideline reporting unbearable..

    can we start a petition to have her removed from anyting sports related?

  53. This is exactly why ESPN needs a legitimate direct competitor in the business. Over time, as they have morphed into the TMZ of the sports media world they have set aside all class and tact. Instead of responsible sports journalism they have turned to this reality tv style approach which I find disgraceful. People are going to watch the draft because they want to see which selections their favorite teams make, not watch some manufactured human drama unfold. This is why I’ve given up on watching ESPN unless they are showing a game I really want to see.

  54. Bad enough that Ingram is short and has a head hideously swollen from steriod use, to bring up the fact that he comes from a line of convicts is piling on.

    Suzy realized why the Dad was so inept as a fraudster. He absent mindedly hid his only file in the letter he sent to her.

  55. hobartbaker says:
    May 2, 2011 4:57 PM
    Bad enough that Ingram is short and has a head hideously swollen from steriod use, to bring up the fact that he comes from a line of convicts is piling on.

    Suzy realized why the Dad was so inept as a fraudster. He absent mindedly hid his only file in the letter he sent to her.

    Hobart, do you ever have anything useful to say??

  56. What Kolber did that night was disgraceful she was taking advantage of situations to get a better interview. Not only did she have the cancer conversation with Cannon and the Dad one with Ingram but she also brought up 911 when talking to Danny Watkins.

    Trying to use other peoples hardships for you own gain is dishonest which is exactly what she did. This was suppose to be 1 of the best times of these kids lifes but instead they had to talk about a father in prison a bout with cancer and the murder of 1,000’s of Americans. Great Job ESPN.

  57. I work in media and with football players. To be honest, my answer to how I feel about this depends on her relationship with Ingram.

    For example, I have a great relationship with many players that play for the Connecticut Huskies football team and have for years and years. Had I interviewed Jordan Todman, I probably would have asked him how Jazz would have felt to see him there and he would have appreciated the question.

    So, Suzy may know Mark well.

    If not, I actually trust Suzy Kolber enough in terms of journalistic integrity. She’s always been a pretty straight shooter along with Pam Oliver.

    Just my thoughts.

    Not saying she’s right or wrong, but emotion plays a big part of the story at times like that and players will feed off of it.

    I probably would have waited until he got off stage to read that to him, but with the timing of the draft she probably couldn’t do it.

    Just my two cents.

  58. Halo81 makes a great point. Nobody really knows what relationship Kolber has with Ingram Sr. or Jr. Perhaps she has contacted him several times since he’s been incarcerated to get his take on Jr’s college career. Maybe she has discussed this angle with Jr. one or more times since he’s been at Alabama. Ingram Sr. seemed willing to let Kolber be the messenger here, so it may not have been an unwelcome intrusion on her part as many have implied.

  59. Does ESPN show sports anymore? Or is it all hype, bombast, shallow self- promotion, and “human interest” stories?

  60. Typical Suzy Kolber. Thats what you get when crossing a perky info babe with ESPN. Do people still watch ESPN. And wheres Broadway Joe when you really need him??

  61. I’m glad someone said it because that was awful. Suzy Kolber has always been one of my least favorite reporters for ESPN and now its Suzy kolber first, Stuart Scott second.

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