- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007

As any football fan should know by now, both ESPN and the NFL Network will show live coverage of the NFL Draft on April 28. Both will have flashy studio productions with an army of talking heads. Both have their gurus — ESPN with Mel Kiper, Jr. and the NFL Network with Mike Mayock. It’s made for quite a rivalry.

But the tension between the two networks was never more apparent than Monday, when I received the following e-mails:

4:25 p.m.: “Conference Call Advisory: NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock. Wednesday, April 18 at 11 a.m. ET.”

4:32 p.m.: “ESPN 2007 NFL Draft Media Conference Call with Mel Kiper, Jr. Wednesday, April 18 at 11 a.m. ET.”

Uh oh. It’s the Battle of the NFL Draft Guru Conference Calls! Live, tomorrow at Mohegan Sun! Kiper! Mayock! The World Awaits!

Really, the question here was not whether reporters would manage to be on two conference calls at once. That would be an impossible request for a crew of writers known for their vigorous complaints about the quality of free press box buffets. No, we knew one of these networks would budge and move their call, thereby becoming the other networks’ [insert term for female dog here.]

We kid.

The NFL Network did the noble thing and moved their call to 1 p.m. (Which is actually a more convenient time, particularly for any West Coast writers.) But I’d really like to know how that conversation went.

ESPN official: “Move your call.”

NFL Network official: “No, you move it.”

ESPN: “We’ve been around a lot longer than you, newbie.”

NFL: “And we’re owned by the league. We can do what we want. Want me to call Roger?”

ESPN: “Ha! Roger’s too busy counting the $8 billion we paid for Monday Night Football.”

NFL: “Whatever. You’re just bitter that we have games on Thursday nights now.”

ESPN: “Oh … that matchup between the Bucaneers and Lions is gonna be HUGE.”

And so on and so on. …

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