The ultimate reality show about nothing will not be undermined, again.
Richard Deitsch of TheAthletic.com reports that both NFL Network and ESPN have agreed not to tip picks during the 2019 NFL draft.
More accurately, NFL Network and ESPN have agreed that their reporters will be prevented from reporting on the identity of the picks. (And since NFL Network is the NFL, it probably wasn’t a very difficult sell.)
For several years now, the NFL has squeezed its own in-house media conglomerate and its network partners to refrain from spoiling the surprise that comes when the Commissioner strides to the podium and, after the booing subsides, announces a pick. On one hand, it defies the primary reporting mission of reporters. On the other hand, the backlog of picks that routinely develops as the league tries to space out the picks in order to make for a better TV show makes getting info about the pending picks easier than shooting fish in a barrel, from inside the barrel.
Although Deitsch mentions only NFLN and ESPN, the other broadcast partners — CBS, FOX, and NBC — presumably will get the same request/directive. And I’ll comply with it, primarily because I believe the audience doesn’t want to know the identity of the pick until the pick is officially made.
This year, the no-tipping rule likely contains an implicit codicil: Don’t say or do anything that would divulge Arizona’s plans for the first pick in the draft. That’s something I won’t comply with (especially since no one has asked me to refrain . . . yet); if/when we learn what the Cardinals plan to do with Selection No. 1, we will be reporting it.
Of course, with the Cardinals committed to keeping that quiet until it’s time to make the pick, that may harder than shooting fish in a barrel, a mile away from the barrel.