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#pounditSaturday, June 19, 2021

NFL Draft got really dark with tragic stories about players and their families

Laviska West Nile virus

Those watching the 2020 NFL Draft may have noticed there was an unusual focus on negative stories for most prospects, which hung a dark cloud over what is an otherwise joyous time for players.

Each time a player was drafted, ESPN shared information about the player that included video highlights and analysis of the player. That was standard. But what was unusual was hearing all the stories of adversity players overcame. It felt like stories of death a prospect overcame were shared after every pick.

Even when stories about family deaths weren’t shared, ESPN shared other details about adversity a player overcame. In one example, they talked about a prospect’s mother overcoming drug addiction. In another, they mentioned a player’s mother having West Nile virus.

ESPN faced numerous challenges in broadcasting a virtual version of the draft this year and did a fantastic job, while grabbing huge ratings. Their task was not easy. But they seemed to go out of their way to highlight death and other negative stories from a player’s past, and it added an unnecessarily gloomy tone to the production.

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