O'Donnell: ABC/ESPN driving tribalism with mammoth coverage of NFL draft
ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE YET to find evidence The Old Roman Sports Network ever devoted hours of prime-time coverage to the choosing of the next batch of gladiators.
But that's not stopping the cowering Babbitts at ABC/ESPN from gross overkill with two full nights plus Saturday afternoon blanketing the NFL draft. (Official start times: 7 p.m. Thursday; 6 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. Saturday.)
Of course the NFL Network is matching strides as one of the great chunks of second-tier American sports canon takes a giant step on to a weakened broadcast center stage.
Whether Ariana Grande or only Faith Hill and Tim McGraw would join Kyler Murray on the NFL Network's opening "Red Carpet" remained an object of speculation to the very final tick.
Host city Nashville hasn't had this kind of outside attention since Ulysses S. Grant was working southbound on the Mississippi.
Team on the beam was the Oakland Raiders, with good reason -- they stink. The faded marauders of Al Davis have had one winning season since 2002 and owned three first-round draft picks.
After the Raiders gift-wrapped Khalil Mack to the Bears last August, ineffectual son Mark Davis hired veteran NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock as his general manager.
That leaves Mayock in a great spot: He can pick 'em and then expertly explain why they're such 50-50 selections.
As for the Bears, primarily because of the Mack deal, Ryan Pace and crew aren't scheduled to select until No. 87 Friday night. If they do bag Iowa State running back David Montgomery -- a 21-year-old swifty almost as beloved in Ames as Fred Hoiberg -- call it a win.
And for those still watching Saturday afternoon, call it a win -- for magnetizing, media-driven tribalism.
MUCH OF CHICAGO SPORTS remains in mourning over Chet Coppock. But former Bulls play-by-play man Bill Hazen had an archaeological note of his own too good not to mention:
"It was the winter of 1965-66 and I was a sophomore on the Individual Speech team at Arlington High School," Hazen said. "We were in a major tournament at New Trier and there was this big blond guy who absolutely overwhelmed the field in 'Radio Speaking.'
"Of course it was Chet and I'm pretty sure he went on to win state. No dime, no dance floor, no Diet Cokes back then but a memorable presence that I readily recalled when our professional paths crossed a decade or so later down in Indy."
The public memorial service for Coppock remains 10 a. m. Monday at St. Pauls United Church of Christ, 2335 N. Orchard St. in Lincoln Park.
As for Amy Williams, the driver of the car in the Coppock accident, friends report that she was hospitalized with "two badly broken legs and other injuries."
Williams and Coppock met close to 20 years ago while she was working as a broadcast producer in Chicago.
STREET-BEATIN': With the nation's three largest TV markets not represented in the NBA playoffs (the Clippers don't count, like Martin Short at an A-list party in Bel Air), the most competitively intriguing Finals would be Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee vs. James Harden and Houston; The street gatherings alone near Fiserv Forum are worth the trip north when the Bucks tip an EC semi against visiting Boston Sunday (noon, ABC-7). … Maybe the Blackhawks are dry icing, but Round One of the NHL postseason has been more energizing than Panic! at the Disco opening a Mike Pence rally; NBC's Mike Tirico notes there were three Game 7s, 10 overtime games and all four division winners -- Tampa Bay, Washington, Nashville and Calgary -- were KOed. … Steve Kashul -- long one of the most underrated TV sportscasters in Chicago -- will emcee the 23rd Annual 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame inductee dinner Saturday night at Drury Lane in Oak Brook; Kashul was selected for the media wing of the Hall in 2008, joining such Clincher luminaries as Mike Royko, Bob Sirott and Tim Weigel. … The unsinkable Cheryl Raye-Stout -- high queen of the radar ears -- has launched a weekly podcast titled "Sports Odyssey" along with WBEZ-FM (91.5) colleague Michael Puente; New editions are scheduled for Thursday drops via iTunes. … Tom Hayes, mayor of Arlington Heights, missed running in the Boston Marathon for only the second time in the past 15 years but it wasn't for lack of effort; The West Point grad's best qualifying time of 3:55.13 was 13 seconds over the cut for his age group (60-64). …
And clever craftsman Phil Mushnick who owns sports media reportage in New York City, after chastising CBS for its patronizing coverage of The Masters, expressed shock when he didn't see the Fisheye tease: "Notre Dame Cathedral Burns! Tiger Woods Unharmed!"