Rich Eisen is starting one of the biggest weeks of his year.
The 2012 NFL Draft begins Thursday (April 26) with coverage on both ESPN and the NFL Network, respectively the veteran sportscaster’s former and current television homes. Eisen has gotten to New York City a few days early to prepare for the NFL Network telecasts, but as he knows from experience, that probably doesn’t cover all that will ensue in the selecting.
“It’s just so much fun,” the “NFL Total Access” and “NFL GameDay Morning” host tells Zap2it. “I’m a native New Yorker, so getting to work in that art-deco jewel in the middle of Manhattan called Radio City Music Hall is just a dream come true. It’s awesome, and it’s what I call the end of the talent-evaluation process and the beginning of the regenerative process of the NFL, where the new blood comes in.
“All of these guys come off college campuses after playing on Saturday afternoons and Saturday evenings in front of most of the country. Most NFL fans already know who these guys are, and they’re so excited that these could be the next pieces to bring their team to prominence … or, perhaps, the Super Bowl. It’s just fun to watch it play out.”
Able to count on having one of the best seats in the house, Eisen says, “Obviously, the two quarterbacks at the top of the draft — Robert Griffin III (the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor University) and Andrew Luck (the 2010 and 2011 Heisman runner-up from Stanford University) — will get the most attention. When they’re drafted, and they’re expected to be drafted lickety-split, we’ve still got 253 more picks to go. And that’s when the drama really begins.”
However much of it there is, Eisen will be there for all of it. “I’m hosting my eighth draft for the NFL Network, and my seventh in Radio City Music Hall. I stay for all seven rounds, so I think I’ve anchored something like 1600 consecutive draft picks. It’s just a blast to be a part of.”
At the same time, Eisen is starting work on another major TV role. He moves into the reality-show-host realm with “The Great Escape,” a TNT competition series from producers of CBS’ multiple-Emmy-winning “The Amazing Race” that debuts Sunday, June 24.
Oscar winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer also are among the new show’s makers, and Eisen reasons, “When a dream team is presented to me, it’s sort of a no-brainer to go for the opportunity. It premieres on my birthday, and it’ll give me 10 more dramatic Sundays that will take me right to the start of the football season. I’m taking my breath now, and I’ll probably exhale at next year’s Super Bowl.”