|Around the clock draft attention|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 27 April 2007 06:54|
Sirius Satellite Radio will be on the air from first choice to last, with no less than seven hosts or analysts, including NFL draft guru Gil Brandt and former players Randy Cross, Tim Ryan and Jim Miller. Sirius' channel 124, dedicated solely to NFL coverage, will have 20 hours of live coverage.
And if fans have no access to radio or TV, they can turn to their cell phones.
For the second straight year, Sprint is making the NFL Network's live broadcasts available on its wireless mobile network.
Sprint also will have a correspondent of its own on hand, Laura Hawk, the wife of Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk - and the sister of Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, who is projected as a very early selection Saturday.
Laura Hawk will conduct interviews throughout the proceedings at Radio City Music Hall.
``NFL fans don't have to sit in front of a TV or computer to follow the 2007 draft,'' said Steve Gaffney, director of sports marketing for Sprint. ``We have found that today's sports fan wants to be connected to the NFL round the clock.''
NEW MAN ON THE JOB: Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney was answering a question about former director of college scouting Tony Softli when new top scout Don Gregory broke in.
``They're not going to outwork us,'' Gregory said of Softli's new job with the St. Louis Rams. ``I know that.''
That attitude may best describe Gregory, a 20-year veteran of evaluating talent who is set to oversee his first draft with the Panthers this weekend. Gregory spent five years as a Kansas City Chiefs national scout before Carolina hired him in June to replace Softli, who left to become the Rams' vice president of player personnel.
``He's obsessed with this stuff, and that's what you want,'' Hurney said of Gregory. ``He finds great enjoyment in going out and finding players.''
Gregory is so into his job he decided to move to Dallas instead of Charlotte so he could be centrally located in a city with a major airport, which allows him to see as many players as possible.
``I like to go shake the trees a little bit,'' Gregory said. ``It's easier for me to be in the middle of the country, an hour or two from any major school. When you're out there traveling on those planes, it takes half your day anyway.''
By shaving an hour or two off a flight, the 51-year-old Gregory has been able to see hundreds of players and get more work done on his draft board as he prepares for one of the most important drafts in team history.
The Panthers have seven picks, including the 14th overall selection, and desperately need help at safety, linebacker, defensive end and receiver.
EAT WELL, PLAY WELL: Brady Quinn credits someone other than Charlie Weis for a portion of his success at Notre Dame: his nutritionists.
Quinn says he learned early the importance of a good diet ``to get some other sort of edge'' besides what he could learn from his coaches. He was surprised that many other college athletes don't recognize the connection between eating well and playing well.
Quinn emphasized to his teammates the importance of brands being certified by either the NFL or NCAA, and being aware of the rules on what you can and can't put in your body as a college athlete.
Now that the quarterback is headed to the pros as a No. 1 draft choice, he's not going to forget those lessons.
``Before I went to Notre Dame, I was very aware of a good diet and I'll keep it that way.''
TYPICAL TOURIST: A huge billboard on 34th Street in Manhattan features several of the players likely to guy early in the draft. Standing on the pavement looking up at it and taking pictures was one particularly interested tourist: Calvin Johnson.
The wide receiver from Georgia Tech generally considered the best athlete in this year's crop, did the tourist thing earlier this week. That included ogling the billboard on which he is featured.
``My brother Wali and I were walking around and trying to find it. You can't really miss it,'' Johnson said. ``It's pretty big. I thought, `My first billboard and for it to be up in New York, it's pretty cool to have it.''
Johnson's didn't concentrate solely on the billboard, though. He also took photos of other New York landmarks, including the Empire State Building.
On Saturday, his will be one of the first names called out at another Manhattan attraction: Radio City Music Hall. He might even be the first choice overall at the draft.
``I don't know. I got a good vibe from every team I visited and worked out for,'' Johnson said. ``That's why I have no idea where I'll wind up.''
Sports Writer Mike Cranston in Charlotte contributed to this story.