The ESPN/NFL Network and ABC coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft took a lot of criticism over the first two days in particular for an apparent focus on tragedies that have happened to drafted players’ families, from deaths to battles with drug addiction to struggles against West Nile virus. Current players like the Broncos’ Bradley Chubb expressed their disappointment, as did many media and fans. But ESPN isn’t exactly apologetic about it, as per a statement they sent to Jordan Heck of The Sporting News:
Our NFL Draft coverage analyzes the prospects on the field and introduces the human side of the players by telling their stories, including the obstacles their families have overcome as part of the journey to the NFL.
Telling players’ “stories” is one thing, but hitting the tragedy button time after time after time isn’t necessarily the best way to do that, especially on an event like this. And some of those “stories” are highly questionable as ways to introduce a player to a wide audience, especially when it comes to narratives like Tee Higgins’ mother’s struggles with addiction. There are a lot of other facts you could put up on his player card that wouldn’t cause any controversy.
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