ESPN Explains Decision To Tell Nonstop Sad Stories About NFL Draft Picks

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It seemed that if a 2020 NFL Draft pick faced challenges in his past, ESPN was ready to air it out to the world this past weekend.

This year’s three-day NFL draft was different than in years past due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic forced the event to take place virtually, with ESPN having to fill a lot of idle time that otherwise wouldn’t be present for an in-person draft.

One of the ways ESPN approached this issue was by telling stories of players’ off-the-field challenges: Parent drug addiction, deaths in the family, homelessness — you name it. And while noting that isn’t necessarily wrong, it teetered on the line of being distasteful that the second a player was selected, the network pivoted to sad music and had Trey Wingo talk about the player’s tribulations during what, for many, was the highlight of his life to that point.

Going forward, though, the draft broadcast might not be as much of a downer.

?I heard (the criticism),? ESPN executive Seth Markman told NBC Sports’ Peter King. ?It?s not unfair. It?s something we should self-scout for the future. It?s something we can examine. We didn?t want to be Debbie Downer, but we wanted to show how some of the players overcame major issues in their lives. Maybe how Javon Kinlaw drew inspiration from growing up homeless, or a player overcoming a father?s suicide to achieve his dream.?

Hey, players’ full stories of how they overcame challenges to get to where they are now should most definitely be told. But the optics that came with ESPN’s timing were, in a word, subpar.

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