In a letter sent to its broadcast partners and obtained by The Big Lead, the NFL has made the request for insider reporters not to tip picks during the Draft this week. The letter was sent by league senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz, and addressed to Sean McManus, Eric Shanks, and Mark Lazarus, who oversee CBS Sports, Fox Sports, and NBC Sports, respectively. It reads (emphasis ours):
As you know, the NFL Draft has grown into a significant media event, with viewership greater than many live sporting events. The tent pole of the off-season, the Draft is the catalyst of fan engagement with our clubs and league that lasts through the summer and the start of the next NFL season.
Over the past several years, we have instituted a policy that our clubs are not permitted to reveal their picks via social media or any other platform prior to selections being announced by the Commissioner or his designee at the Draft venue. Our Draft broadcasters, NFL Network and ESPN, also have agreed to not reveal team selections on any platform until the picks are announced by the NFL – this includes an embargo on footage in the Green Room or from a remote location and also a moratorium on network personnel revealing picks during Draft coverage, on other television shows, social media or other platforms. We believe that keeping this information embargoed to the extent possible clearly enhances the viewer experience for the Draft. The result is a better presentation for the 32 million viewers who watched Round 1 in 2014 and the 45.7 million who watched across all three days.
As network partners of the NFL, we encourage and appreciate your coverage of the Draft in Chicago this year and ask for your cooperation with this approach. Please have your reporters and other personnel refrain from revealing picks on social media or other platforms before they are announced in the Draft broadcasts.
Thank you for your consideration and support of this philosophy.
This has been the prevailing policy for ESPN and NFL Network for a couple years now, and as SI’s Richard Deitsch reported earlier this week, the policy will remain in place for those broadcasting the draft. In the past, though, reporters from Fox, CBS, and NBC like Jay Glazer, Jason La Canfora (who told Deitsch he’s part of an online show so his tweeting will be different this year than in the past), and Mike Florio (who stopped in 2013 after an audience poll suggested his readers did not want to know) have tipped picks. It will be interesting to see whether their employers abide by the NFL’s wishes, and put the kibosh on the entirety of the practice.
In my opinion, the manufactured drama from the NFL on this front is dumb, and it’s just as exciting for me to learn about draft placement on Twitter as it is from Goodell at the podium. Again, it remains to be seen whether Fox, CBS, and NBC will abide by this edict.