NFL teams’ IT staffs emerging as key players in virtual draft

As sports fans we’re used to hearing quotes from general managers like John Elway touting the skills of players on their teams, but when’s the last time you heard a GM go out of his way to praise the IT department?

Elway, like several other NFL GMs who have been publicly appreciative of their IT departments, was quoted calling his team’s IT department “heroes” for their work during the coronavirus shutdowns, as well as in preparation for this week’s virtual NFL draft. Take a bow, Russ Trainor! You and your team, like other IT departments around the NFL and in sports in general, are earning their keep and more during these everyone’s-remote times.

UPDATE: The Niners’ John Lynch likes his IT team, too.

With reports that a test run of the NFL’s draft operation hit a few hiccups early, some teams are likely to follow the Detroit Lions’ lead of having the IT staff close at hand to tackle any emergency communication issues:

NFL playoff expansion on hold

Playoff games will be a bit more spread around this post season in the NFL as NBC will be adding a divisional round game and ESPN will be getting a Wild Card game. The ESPN game will be also broadcast over the air in the cities of the two teams that are playing.

Meanwhile the talk of expansion of the playoffs looks like it has been delayed, at least in the near term. NY Giants team president John Mara spoke to Newsday and said that he believed that the earliest additional post season games would be added would be in 2015. Commissioner Goodell had been pushing for this year.

NFL Players to land Tweet deal
Fans quite often follow their favorite athletes on Twitter, or at least ones that might make outspoken or interesting statements. Well now they may say something along the lines of “This Tweet brought to you by…”

A deal between the NFL Players Inc. and digital marketing company Opendorse will work to get endorsement deals for players who will be paid to tout the products via Twitter. According to Sports Business Journal Opendorse has already signed 200 players.

Top NFL Draft misses?
One of the byproducts of the huge NFL mock draft industry is that it sometimes makes some glaring mistakes. I think that most fans have a love/hate relationship with top online and broadcast mock drafters and really enjoy bringing up this topic.

Awful Announcing has complied just that type of list and leads off a historcial gem with Mel Kiper saying that JaMarcus Russell, the Oakland Raiders top draft selection in 2007 is the next John Elway. It just gets better after that but a few I was hoping to see did not make the cut, which may say something about the number of mock draft failures.

World Cup teams have needs too
Who knew that World Cup teams had demands that will most likely force rock stars to improve their game when it comes to making demands from the hotels where the teams stay. Kosher meat, fresh bananas from your native country and only liquid soap, none of that old fashion bar soap, which is apparently not good enough for the French.

According to SB Nation many are demanding the televisions carry broadcasts from home with Honduras demanding six Spanish speaking stations. Japan needs a Jacuzzi in every room. And I thought that Van Halen was demanding because they did not want brown M&Ms.

NFL Network has Broad Digital Coverage for 2013 Draft


As any fan knows the 2013 NFL Draft starts on Thursday and while there has been a great deal of coverage leading up to the event, it looks like that will pale in comparison to the massive coverage the league’s network plans.

Most fans I know switch between networks on draft day, checking to see what the experts at ESPN, the NFL Network and elsewhere have to say about each choice. Yet an issue can arise since the draft starts on a Thursday night and even with a prime time start there are many that have to work or have other engagements that might make it impossible to be in front of the television. There is online coverage as well as a mobile app for these types of problems.

For the online user, be it as a second screen or a user watching at work there is the Live Presented by Courtyard. Coverage begins at 8:00 pm ET for the online effort and will be hosted by Matt Smith and will include former NFL players LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner and Akbar Gbajabiamila, as well as former NFL general manager Charley Casserly. The online show will occasionally join with the NFL Network’s broadcast of the event.

Coverage will continue over the weekend with Friday’s starting at 6:30 pm ET for rounds 2-3 and Saturday’s coverage of rounds 4-7 will start at noon ET. Much of Saturday’s proceedings will be simulcast.

For Verizon subscribers there is the option of using NFL Mobile from Verizon that will be streaming the NFL Network’s entire 2013 draft coverage. The network has also added a live draft tracker feature and video on-demand featuring draft and team analysis. NFL Mobile, however, costs $5 a month and you must have a Verizon phone and data plan.

For users of the NFL ’13 app, a free app for both iOS and Android owners, there is now a feature called Draft Xtra that can serve as a companion or second screen to both broadcast NFL Network coverage or the coverage that is available on NFL.Com. It will include both on-demand and live video as well as a range of interactive features.

Of course there has been a great deal of coverage both online and on the broadcast arm of the NFL and that will increase as the draft nears and will include predraft predictions and post draft analysis. Look here for a complete listing.

The NFL Draft Round 1 Was Quite an Event

I have to say that was some draft day, and it really did not follow the usual playbook of predictable picks with maybe one or two teams trading up for a better position. After the first two picks you could throw out your pick sheets.

There were eight trades with teams rising and dropping on the big board, and it was all done very efficiently with no waiting around as team executives put their heads together to decide what to do with their new found positions.

The expertise that now permeates the league regarding cap room coupled with the rookie salary structure obviously has made it much easier to trade picks and with the mass amount of information available on everybody, teams were still very decisive.

Of course there were a couple of head scratchers. Seattle selecting Bruce Irvin, a monster DL/LB from West Virginia who many believed would be a second or even later round selection. The reason being that he is a monster off the field as well.

Seattle’s division rivals the San Francisco 49ers also drafted a bit oddly, taking A.J. Jennings, a wide receiver out of Illinois who admitted he did not think he was a first round pick. The pick that will be interesting to watch will be Miami’s selection of QB Ryan Tannehill, a relative unknown who shot up the charts in the past few weeks as the next great unrecognized player in the draft.

Well Round 2 starts tonight and I wonder if we will see as much movement in picks? Somehow I believe that we will not.

Hints about Seahawks picks to be Twittered in Advance?

Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll has developed a unique tool to convey the intentions of the team in regards to each draft choice- he tweets about it.

But rather than make reference to the position or school that the prospective choice might come from he takes a different approach.

Two years ago he tweeted songs about the picks. His first was Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” and this was followed by a number of other song hints. No explanation was provided, and in fact he tweeted a number of cryptic responses as to what, if anything they meant.

Last year he repeated the act with song hints from everybody from MC Hammer to John Denver to Black Eyes Peas. Is this all for fun or is he providing real clues? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has warned teams not to leak their selections, but this seems to be hazy enough not to get him in trouble if truly representing his choices.

This year he is at it again, starting Thursday night. You can follow him again, not at his usual twitter handle but at #seahawksdraftclues! To see what he posts this year. The team has the #12 pick in the first round and is reportedly looking for a speed pass rusher. If you crack the code let us know.

Lotsa Luck: Colts will Have Live Mobile TV Cam Following Top Draft Pick

In a new, mobile twist to the 24/7 NFL Draft coverage idea, the Indianapolis Colts will have a live, mobile TV camera following top draft pick Andrew Luck from the moment he’s picked Thursday throughout his Friday welcome-to-Indy activities.

Partnering with mobile camera technology supplier LiveU, whose camera modems are finding more fans in the sports world, the Colts will be breaking new ground by providing a Luck’s-eye-view to the hoopla surrounding the top draft pick. No info yet on where the feed will be posted, but you can check the Colts’ official website as well as the LiveU Facebook page, where more info is sure to be posted.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to the streaming page. Apparently not quite 24×7, but still cool.

The Colts will also host a Google+ hangout with luck, according to this release. We will also update this post with more info as we get it, so stay tuned for live, mobile coverage of Andrew Luck’s million-dollar-plus day.

The Colts are also not the only NFL team taking advantage of LiveU’s technology, which is basically a bunch of cellular modems in a backpack (or a beltclip) that allows users to broadcast live, professional video content from just about anywhere at the fraction of the cost of using a satellite truck. Though LiveU couldn’t name the teams, several more are expected to be broadcasting their own draft news and views live Thursday, so check your team’s home page to see if they have a LiveU feed running. For fans of always-on info, the revolution has now reached the broadcast TV market.