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Mel Kiper Jr: I’m Still Enthusiastic About Mock Drafts

Kiper Jr. started doing work for ESPN in the 1980s, but he had to grind during the 1970s to get there. Also, some criticism was not precisely for his mock drafts, but that nobody would be interested in this type of content.

Eduardo Razo

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The NFL Draft has been synonymous with Mel Kiper Jr., regardless of whether a fanbase agrees or disagrees with his mock draft. The ESPN analyst has been a part of the network coverage since the 1980s, where he provides insight on the nation’s potential draft picks. 

Ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, Kiper Jr. spoke to the New York Postwhere one of the questions that he answered is over being the rockstar of NFL mock drafts. Kiper Jr. revealed that he enjoys the job now more than ever; the 60-year-old admits that it wasn’t a glamorous job when he started. 

“It’s a lot of fun,” Kiper Jr. said. “‘Why don’t you get a real job? Why would people want to watch that? Why would ESPN want to televise that? Why are you putting out books? Nobody cares about the draft.’ How many times did we hear that back in the ’70s and ’80s? To fight through all that negativity and still have resolve that you believe in what you’re doing and see where it is right now, every time I turn the computer on, you’ve got a million mock drafts, a million draft sites, a million articles about the draft. This was not the way it was in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.”

Mel Kiper Jr. started doing work for ESPN in the 1980s, but he had to grind during the 1970s to get there. Also, some criticism was not precisely for his mock drafts, but that nobody would be interested in this type of content. Fast forward to 2021, and the NFL Draft is an event that many fans are excited to see because of the hope that comes with it. 

Why is he still around?

“I think being enthusiastic about what I do. I’ve never lost the enthusiasm for what I do,” he answered when asked about the key to his longevity.

Now every network that covers the NFL has its mock draft expert who helps with draft coverage months in advance leading up to the big three-night event. 

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Notre Dame Expects Next Media Rights Deal to be Worth $60 Million Annually

Notre Dame is reportedly seeking $75 million per year, while Sports Business Journal figures the school would get closer to $60 million.

Jordan Bondurant

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Chris Coduto

There are still a few more seasons until Notre Dame starts the process of hammering out a new media rights deal, but it’s believed the FBS independent could have its next partner shelling out more than double what NBC is currently paying.

NBC, which appears to be a front-runner alongside CBS to be one of the key rights partners in the Big Ten’s new contract, currently pays $25 million each year for rights to Fighting Irish football according to Front Office Sports.

Notre Dame is reportedly seeking $75 million per year, while Sports Business Journal figures the school would get closer to $60 million.

Viewership for Fighting Irish games was reportedly down 48% year-over-year for the 2021 season, averaging 2.5 million viewers. The year before that, the pandemic season in 2020, viewership for Notre Dame was its best since 2005.

Notre Dame remains an independent in football, but is in the ACC for its other programs. The Fighting Irish do play some ACC schools in football. With NBC and the Big Ten apparently becoming new partners, it’s believed that Notre Dame would then have more Big Ten opponents in football.

The current contract between the school and NBC ends in 2025.

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Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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