Rush To Judgment

This is a guest column submitted by Roy Reiss. He is a former  Sports Broadcaster at Channel 7 Boston-WHDH TV and is also the father of Mike Reiss, of “Reiss’ Pieces” fame.

Today’s sports media is quick to “rush to judgment” on teams, personalities, coaches, managers, and just about anyone associated with professional or collegiate sports. According to the media, this is what the public wants and why they purchase newspapers, tune in to TV shows, search the internet, or listen to talk radio.

Strangely the media loves to hold the sporting world they cover accountable for everything, yet when they become the object of such scrutiny and accountability they react as if they should never be held accountable for anything said or written. They can say, write, or do just about anything and please don’t ever ask them to apologize for any misstep.

One of the great examples of this lack of accountability in the media is the phenomena created annually with the NFL draft. Just about everyone knows which teams should take which players; they have opinions on every move, and rarely ever revisit those “rush to judgment” statements.

You want instant analysis and opinion, you got it! Let’s give grades out immediately following the selections. Let’s find out who won and lost before ever playing a game. After all this is really what the public wants!!

The draft has perpetrated this type of journalism and rarely if ever is anyone accountable for anything said or written. We don’t want insightful reporting or information that takes time and energy. We don’t want to wait to see how someone may develop over time. We need instant answers, instant successes and failures; anything to keep the general public’s attention.

So let’s go back to 2006 and see what a few of the so called football experts were saying after that draft 3 years ago. It’s an interesting exercise.

Mel Kiper

GRADE: B Arizona
I give them an A for the first day and a C for the second day. The Cardinals’ QB of the future, Matt Leinart, fell into their lap at No. 10 (I had Leinart as the third best player in the draft).

GRADE: C Indianapolis
First-round pick Joseph Addai (at No. 30) is a good blocking running back, but he is not all that dynamic running the ball.

GRADE: C+ NY Giants
DE Mathias Kiwanuka was a reach late in the first round, but he will get a chance to learn from Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. Getting WR Sinorice Moss in the second round was one of the best picks in the draft;

GRADE: B NE Patriots
Laurence Maroney, selected at No. 21, gives the Patriots a security blanket at running back. WR Chad Jackson was a nice pick in the second round and could have gone in the middle of the first. TE Dave Thomas has excellent hands, while Garret Mills might be more of a fullback. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski was a reach in the fourth round (I didn’t think any kickers would get drafted).

Next, Also from ESPN is John Clayton:

John Clayton

Winners

2. Arizona Cardinals: Normally, the Cardinals are the bad luck team. Twice this off-season they struck gold. They headed into free agency without the intention of paying big money for a running back. But with a surprising $17.5 million increase in the salary cap, the Cardinals were able to sign Edgerrin James. Then, Matt Leinart was gift-wrapped for them at No. 10. Arizona coach Dennis Green rated Leinart among the top five players in the draft. He said the selection was similar to 1999 when Green was with the Vikings and selected Daunte Culpepper, whom he rated as the No. 1 quarterback in that draft. “We really had him ranked as one of the top five players,” Green said.

3. San Francisco 49ers: Acquiring Maryland tight end Vernon Davis was a bigger break for the 49ers than you would expect. Davis is a 254-pound tight end who can run a 4.38. Because quarterback Alex Smith doesn’t have the strongest arm, Davis should help Smith as much as Alge Crumpler helps Michael Vick and Tony Gonzalez helps Trent Green. Davis can work the seams, providing easier, more accurate throws for Smith. He could add three to five percent points to Smith’s completion numbers.

5. Tennessee Titans: Give Floyd Reese some credit. He was in a tough situation. His coaches wanted Leinart. His owner wanted him to draft Young. It was a debate that carried into Saturday morning. Reese found a way to satisfy everyone. In Young he got a quarterback back whom he believes will be better than Leinart in two or three years. Young might not do much during his first season, so Reese gave the coaching staff White, a big, bruising running back who can help immediately.

From Sports Illustrated:

Don Banks

Winners

NEW ORLEANS
The draft’s marquee player — USC running back Reggie Bush — lands in the Saints’ lap, thanks to Houston’s inability to seal the deal with the Heisman Trophy winner. No, the New Orleans running game wasn’t a pressing concern. But some teams are born to greatness. Others have it thrust upon them.

ARIZONA CARDINALS
Dennis Green’s club somehow came away with a Heisman-winning quarterback at the ridiculously affordable price of a No. 10 pick in Leinart and one of the draft’s top guard prospects in Taitusi Lutui. In a related development, the Cardinals franchise is changing its name once again, this time to USC East.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The 49ers have won an NFL-low six games in the past two seasons, but they took a couple big steps toward being more than the league’s favorite homecoming opponent with Saturday’s development. Maryland tight end Vernon Davis will enter the league as this season’s favorite for NFL offensive rookie of the year honor and San Francisco with its second first-rounder landed a potential impact rush-linebacker in N.C. State’s Manny Lawson.

Anybody want to wager that Lawson will wind up his rookie season with more sacks than his former collegiate teammate and fellow defensive end, Mario Williams?

Also from SI:

Paul Zimmerman

A

BRONCOS: Two years ago Javon Walker caught 89 balls for the Packers. He wanted a long-term deal. Instead he got a torn ACL in his right knee. But wait, the story has a happy ending, because on draft day this year he was traded to Shanahan U., which also moved up to draft QB Jay Cutler, rated by some as the best of the Big Three. And how are these for extra weapons in the receiving game — Tony Scheffler, a swift TE, Brandon Marshall, an oversized wideout? I mean there’s going to be more firepower in the air over Denver than the RAF threw at the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

SAINTS: Congratulations for not blowing the Reggie Bush pick. You sent light into a city darkened by gloom. That gets you the A. The rest of the draft? Well, you’d better put some linemen in front of this dazzling runner, or it’ll be another Dalton Hilliard story. The first time I saw Bush run I thought of two players he reminded me of, when they were in college: Marshall Faulk and Dalton Hilliard. Same rapid cuts and quick bursts. Scintillating runners. Faulk is headed for the Hall of Fame. Hilliard, believe me, a wonderful little back, had an eight-year career with the Saints, playing behind some miserable lines. His lifetime average per carry was 3.7, and he was only in the 4.0 range twice. So during the draft this time the Saints picked up a veteran center from Cleveland, Jeff Faine. That’s good. The highest-drafted O-lineman they got was tackle Jahri Evans in the fourth round. Raw talent, everyone says. Would you prefer cooked talent?

CARDINALS: A day after the draft I got an e-mail from the Cardinals. One thousand, five hundred season tickets sold over the weekend to come watch this dynamic team in brand-new Cardinals Stadium, with its retractable roof and fully retractable grass playing surface. “How about retractable players?” says my hopelessly cynical wife, but those days are gone, because now they’ve got Matt Leinart and a really terrific stud guard from the USC offensive machine, Deuce Lutui, and Leonard Pope, a gigantic 6-7 1/2 TE who can really motor.

Interesting stuff. These so called reporters, journalists, columnists, experts are doing their job. They’re giving the public instant analysis. It’s much the same on the local level as everyone gets away with this sort of so called analysis under the guise of “this is what the public wants”.

Maybe it’s time to stop and ask the public what they really want. My guess is what the public and the knowledgeable football fan really wants are insight, hard work and digging for ground breaking stories that do more than just give us a surface and superficial look at how teams fare in the draft before ever playing a game. We deserve better!

  • baffled

    So let me get this straight, the experts shouldn’t give their opinion until three years later?
    Nobobdy wants to listen to analysis that says “We’ll just have to wait and see if this guy can play in the NFL.” Not that compelling. Since the draft is an inexact science the experts are going to be wrong as often as they are right and it’s unfair to simply point out the mistakes.

    • Big Jeff

      I think the point is that these people are hardly experts and though they anoint themselves as such, they’re far removed from what the function of journalism should be.

      If anyone actually cares what John Clayton or Mike Felger or any other writer thinks about a topic, that person is a moron. If you care about getting information from those individuals, you’re left wanting because they’re too busy telling you how much they know about talent evaluation and Xs and Os.

  • Lance

    Mr. Reiss, it’s clear the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Mike’s objectivity is what makes him perfect (along with Chris Gaspar) in covering the Patriots.

    baffled, maybe you’re missing what Father Reiss is writing. He’s pointing out these “experts” aren’t experts at all. They’re not close to being right – ever. They’re wrong much more often than they’re right. All their blathering is just empty mind-numbing analysis, if you can label it analysis. They’re the cotton candy of food groups. Personally I value intelligence and the Kiper’s have seen tape, speak to people in the league but they’re not “it.”

    • baffled

      I’m not looking for objectivity in draft analysis. I’m looking for opinion. The guys like Kiper and Mike Mayock do their homework. They’re not right all the time but you have to respect the work they do in preparation. Don’t compare them to personalities on the radio.

      • Lance

        baffled – it’s rare when Kiper & Maycock are right ANYTIME. Why not get football opinion from Michael Bay since you seem to need opinion so much? He watches a lot of film too.

      • http://thosecleverkids.com/blog Tom

        If those guys were your stock broker, you wouldn’t be respecting the prep work they do when they’re wrong 95% of the time. It’s not that someone else would do a better job than Kiper, et al, it’s that it’s a bs way for ESPN/ NFL Network/ SI to fill time after the Super Bowl. None of these predictions are anything wrong than guesswork. If they stuck to just scotuing the players, that’d be fine, but trying to tell us who’s going where and how they’ll fit into a system is a waste of time.

        I like Kiper, but his new line this year (on PTI at least) is if a pick doesn’t pan out like he says it will, “we” need to start taking a harder look at the coaching. Like he can just make up anything he wants and when it doesn’t work out, it’s bad coaching.

  • Joe

    Mr. Reiss, you read my mind. I was hoping someone would do an evaluation of the evaluators piece.

    It needs to be more in-depth, though. Looking at a subset of the ‘experts’ and starting with 2005-6 just like you did, but expanded greatly.

    BSMW should publish yearly just BEFORE the draft. This would steer readers to more accurate sources and deny eyeballs to the quacks.

  • Rick Mc

    This is a minor accountability issue. As has been noted, they have to put out something. The writers would be helped out by how they framed these report cards. Most of what is written is just a rehash of the collective wisdom. So if everybody thinks Vernon Davis is a good player, then the SF Giants were right at the time. If a player wasn’t ranked as high as he was drafted, it means it was a reach. Doesn’t mean the player won’t be good or that the team might be right, but CW was that he was a reach.

  • SAG

    Amen! If you pick in the top ten you automatically get an A. Never a mention of the best drafting teams Pats, Pitts, and Philly because they pick in the 20′s. The Jets get the A+ this year for moving up to get the 6’2 one year starter from the college all star team, unbelievable

  • Tony

    The arrogance of guys like Kiper, who once told Sports Illustrated that he could become an NFL GM and “do a better job” than most of them, is what kills me. The guy’s never played, coached, or really done anything in the game of football, yet he’s a self-anointed expert about all things NFL Draft.

    At least lately he’s begun to do some mea culpas about the picks he got incredibly wrong in the past, which is something that he wasn’t always that eager to do.

    Mayock is good. He’s not overbearing when he gives his opinions at least.

    By the way….I’m still waiting for Borges to admit that he was wrong about the whole Richard Seymour/David Terrell/Koren Robinson thing 8 years ago…..still waiting…..

  • RonBorges

    Great article, but people do want analysis and seek it out. When a market develops a product arrives to fill the market.

    They ones that know best, aren’t talking. Instead theyu working in the front offices of succesful NFL franchises. Even those experts, get it wrong more than they get it right.

    Mel Kiper and John Clayton are just a couple of pant-loads giving the Sports fans what they want to consume.

  • ProveIt!

    Guys like Kiper and Mayock are paid to do research, be able to discuss endless players in an informative/entertaining way and put their thoughts out there non-stop leading up to the draft. Who says they are wrong 95-percent of the time? Prove it. And by the way, show me the last mock draft that any NFL head coach/GM published leading up to the draft that proves they know exactly how the weekend is going to play out. They couldn’t do it with great success just like the “experts” can’t. We live in an instant analysis culture. News. Politics. Sports. It’s all the same. Sorry the elder Reiss doesn’t like it. Maybe he shouldn’t read/watch/listen to so much of it.

  • Angry Old Bastard

    Great article…..but I just take it for what it’s worth, NOT MUCH….that said, I did watch alot of the draft because I’m a football nut. But I take all the,”analysis” with one HUGE GRAIN of salt…..It’s so OBVIOUS it isn’t funny. NO ONE KNOWS for sure how any of these players will fare in the NFL.. END OF STORY…..and it’s not just the media either, check out the Patriots.Com message board. Plenty of hysterical Pats fans saying this draft was a bust because we didn’t GET A LINEBACKAAAA!….and we didn’t get a PASSRUSHAAAA!……it’s too comical

  • Steve

    Mr. Reiss,

    If your son ever worked for ESPN, his job as an “expert” would be the same as the so-called draft experts there. And he would be wrong just as much as Kiper and Co.

    By the way, I’m guessing you’re not very objective when it comes to your son’s work, which I really think is terrific.

  • ObjectiveBruce

    Nice to see RR chiming in with a few thoughts.

    Being a draft expert is easy; it doesn’t require analysis as much as it requires a database. It makes one recall when Ken Beatrice did a once weekly edition of Calling All Sports where he was absolutely encyclopedic on college names, positions and sports, but without the bluster associated with today’s analysts for whom every opinion must be coached in absolutes, rather than analysis. Alas, the demands for instant expertise and omnipotent knowledge led to some troubles for Beatrice in Washington as time passed him by and control of the airwaves was seized by the pronouncement-makers, instant analysts and blustering idiots.