On Sports Media | Analyst gearing up for his Super Bowl

Posted: April 27, 2007

When Mike Mayock was first seeking a job at NFL Network, he had grand ambitions of being an NFL analyst, talking about NFL players.

Discussing college talent was something Mayock never considered - until he was basically given a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum.

A member of the Haverford School and Boston College halls of fame, the 48-year-old Mayock had a modest and brief NFL career as a defensive back for the New York Giants. Needless to say, he wasn't a household name outside of the Mayock home.

So after auditioning at NFL Network, he was approached about being an analyst of college players. That didn't seem like much of a role on a cable channel that deals with the NFL.

"They said that they had a perfect niche for me [evaluating college players] and I said, 'No, thanks,' " Mayock said recently in a phone interview. "I had a little chip on my shoulder, because I wasn't a very good NFL player and didn't last long. I said I am as good at evaluating the NFL as anybody and don't want to be pushed to other things just because I don't have a name."

Then he was given a dose of reality by an NFL Network executive.

"I was told, 'Every year famous coaches and players retire, and the first job they will take is yours,' " Mayock recalled.

That got him thinking that maybe being employed to talk about college players was better than not having a job at all.

And now less than four years later, it's a job that continues to evolve.

While Mayock may not have the name recognition or the pizzazz of ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., he has carved out a niche as one of the leading experts of college football talent.

This weekend the Mayocks and Kipers of the world will be competing in their own Super Bowl, the annual NFL draft from Radio City Music Hall in New York.

For the second year in a row, both NFL Network and ESPN will be providing live coverage of the NFL draft.

Tomorrow alone, NFL Network and ESPN will both have a one-hour pre-draft show at 11 a.m., followed by 10 hours of draft coverage.

Sunday's final four rounds from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. will also be televised by both cable channels.

And this will be Mayock's time to shine after all those months in a bleary-eyed state from reviewing so much tape.

Then again, Mayock has been at center stage pretty much since September. Even during the NFL season, he appeared each week on NFL Network's College Scoreboard, an eight-hour wrap-up show on Saturdays. Even then, he was talking about players' NFL potential.

This year, NFL Network introduced a half-hour show on weeknights called Path to the Draft. Mayock was a big part of this show, and he was a regular on NFL Network's nightly Total Access.

Mayock also was the leading commentator on NFL Network's coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine in February. Who would know that watching guys in their shorts, running wind sprints and lifting weights, could be sort of fascinating?

Actually, watching them wasn't the most exciting television, but what made the combine interesting was Mayock's analysis of each player, dissecting most every aspect, including character.

What Mayock and others have discovered is that when it comes to the NFL draft, one can't give enough information.

"As an industry, we vastly underrated the football IQ of people out there," Mayock said. "There is an insatiable desire of the football fan, once the season is over and their team doesn't win the Super Bowl, to follow free agency and the draft."

And now Mayock is bursting to give out the information by the time the draft approaches.

"I feel like I'm giving birth, because after nine months living with these kids, it's time to get rid of them," he said.

That is why Mayock can't wait to deliver the information.

"It's my Super Bowl, and I feel my credibility is on the line a little," he said. "That is why you watch all those tapes."


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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