By: John Molori
May 09, 2006

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THIS WEEK:

- Kremer's coup
- Rising Stars, Falling Stars: Who's hot and not in Boston sports media?

Kremer looks back on draft and ahead to NBC

For 17 years, Andrea Kremer brought depth, thoughtfulness and a keen sense of story to a number of roles at ESPN. Now, the premiere NFL interviewer in the country brings her reporting talents to NBC as a feature reporter and game sideline reporter for "Football Night in America," the network's Sunday night TV package set to debut in the 2006 season.

Kremer's first football assignment for NBC was to blanket the NFL Draft as only she can. "We wanted to get on the air right away," says Kremer, who will soon be moving to New England from California with her husband and 6 year-old son. "The draft was really NBC's first football talk of the season. I prepared as hard for this draft as any."

NBC aired Kremer's draft interviews and updates during NHL Playoff pregames and intermissions. Kremer spoke to more than 200 NFL executives and coaches and had interviews with all of the top picks.

She states, "The phenomenon of the draft speaks to the unprecedented popularity of the NFL. After the Pro Bowl, fans go into mourning. Still, (Falcons GM) Rich McKay told me that the worst time to evaluate a team's draft is the day after picks are made.

"In my view, projection has yet to turn into production. Once the players learn a system, get in a weight program and study the playbook, evaluations can be made."

Regarding the top pick in the draft, Kremer, as usual, has some key information. "A half dozen personnel men told me that Mario Williams was the best player in the draft," says Kremer, who worked as producer/director at NFL Films before joining ESPN in 1989.

"The rest said Reggie Bush. (Giants GM) Ernie Accorsi is not given to hyperbole. He called (Saints head coach and former Giants offensive coordinator) Sean Payton and congratulated him on picking Bush. Accorsi told me that Bush is one of the greatest players in draft history and the closest thing he's seen to Gale Sayers."

While the Texans stated that choosing Williams first was a football decision, Kremer says that there were other factors. "(Texans GM) Charlie Casserly told me that Bush made some bad decisions.

"Every day, something new was coming out and it wasn't good. The money for Bush and Williams was comparable. (Titans' head coach) Jeff Fisher told me that he'd rather figure out how to block Mario Williams than tackle Reggie Bush."

Bush was beset by claims that he and his family accepted improper gifts from an agent, meanwhile reports surfaced that Bush's USC teammate LenDale White failed an NFL drug test.

Says Kremer, "I was told by three coaches that White did not fail a drug test. If not for his hamstring injury, his weight and the fact that he did not run a 40 yard dash, he would have been a first round pick."

White is a favorite of Titans' and ex-USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow and was taken by Tennessee in the second round. Tennessee's first round choice of Vince Young was slightly more controversial.

Says Kremer, "That was a very delicate situation in the front office. The owner and GM wanted Young and the head coach and offensive coordinator wanted Matt Leinart."

Leinart slipped to the Cardinals at number ten. "There have been a number of comparisons to Tom Brady," says the Emmy Award winning Kremer. "But what makes Brady special is that he has never forgotten that he was passed over until the sixth round in 2000. He motivates himself differently.

"Now, Leinart has that by falling to the 10th pick. He can show teams the way Ben Roethlisberger did after being picked 11th in 2004. Leinart has also had a whole season playing second fiddle to Reggie Bush at USC."

Kremer believes the Patriots had a great draft. She states, "There are never any smoke screens with Bill Belichick because no information is ever disseminated by the Patriots. Belichick doesn't just draft for this year. He is looking at where the hole might be in two years.

"(First round pick) Laurence Maroney might not replace Corey Dillon this season, but maybe he will in 2007. Belichick was very candid about why he liked (2nd round pick) Chad Jackson from Florida. He likes to pick players from coaches he knows."

Known to consult with former coaching mates such as Nick Saban, Pat Hill and Kirk Ferentz, Belichick had spent some time with Florida coach Urban Meyer leaving local pundits trying to find the connection.

Kremer explains, "Bill has a thirst for learning. He has been talking to Meyer because he wants to learn the spread offense. Also, Dolphins offensive coordinator Scott Linehan worked with Meyer. Bill will get an edge any way he can. You can't count the Patriots out as a Super Bowl contender."

NBC's deal with Kremer had been in the works during the 2005 season, but both sides wanted to wait for her ESPN contract to expire. Kremer left ESPN one month early to join the Peacock and will also cover the Olympics. For the first year of her contract, Kremer will work exclusively for NBC. After that, she is able to consider additional options.

"My heart is racing again," says Kremer of joining NBC's star-studded NFL team. "I have to prove myself all over again. Dick Ebersol has the best eye for talent of anyone in our generation. Al Michaels and John Madden are the best. Bob Costas is the quintessential host.

"Cris Collinsworth is informed and fearless. Jerome Bettis will bring that freshly minted players' view and Sterling Sharpe will bring character and an edge."

As a sideline reporter, Kremer has a clear view of her job. She states, "It's important to undersell and over-deliver. I asked Al (Michaels) what I could do to enhance the broadcast. He said to bring him a perspective from somewhere he cannot be.

"The role of sideline reporter is defined by knowledge, access and trust. We don't need any fluffy stories in the middle of a game. I'll do more interviews in the preseason and more reporting in the regular season. There is no ego here. I don't need to be on TV a certain number of times. I need to tell them what's going on down there."

The best storyteller in the business reluctantly points to a Texas saga as the top headline leading into the 2006 season. "The one story is Bill Parcells and Terrell Owens. Ed Werder from ESPN has my condolences because he will be following this every day.

"T.O. is always a model citizen in his first year with a team, then his act gets old quickly, but he has never met a coach like Parcells. Bill and Terrell will butt heads more if T.O. can't practice. I can't wait for Bill to mispronounce "Terrell" on purpose."

Rising Stars

Tina Cervasio, NESN: The Red Sox best off-season acquisition was not Coco Crisp or Josh Beckett. It was the ebullient Cervasio. A solid interviewer and exciting personality, Cervasio has made me a fan of the heretofore-despised in-game reporter. She is equal parts comely and confident, effervescent and effective. Another solid hire for Sean McGrail and NESN.

Pete Sheppard, WEEI: Call him a guilty pleasure. Sheppard may never have the cache of Peter Gammons or the journalistic skills of Michael Holley, but he continues to be a consistent lightning rod on "The Big Show." Whether it's a bold prediction, an emotional outburst or a funny glimpse at his Rhode Island past, Sheppard incites callers and generates response as much as anyone at the station.

Gary DiSarcina, NESN: Last year's rookie studio analyst has shaken off the freshman jitters and is more relaxed and comfortable alongside Tom Caron. Having watched a recent pregame taping, I'd like to see DiSarcina bring more of his mischievous between segment humor to the airwaves.

Falling Stars

Glenn Ordway, WEEI: In the wake of the Red Sox re-signing with Entercom (WEEI' s parent company), Ordway said that the media wanted WEEI to lose the Red Sox. Pretty paranoid for a guy who frequently touts his high ratings. Ordway is way out in front, but still seems to be looking over his shoulder.

Greg Dickerson, FSN: Dickerson correctly criticized Mets' broadcaster Keith Hernandez for saying that women don't belong in a dugout, but then made a reference to the Padres trainer's breast size by saying that no one would mistake her for Morganna, the well-endowed baseball groupie. Can you be sexist while claiming sexism? I guess Dickerson can.

Red Sox Rainout Bashers: OK, so a few fans had to sit in the rain for two and a half hours only to have last week's Yankees-Red Sox game cancelled. Big deal. The Red Sox were right to wait as long as possible in trying to play the game. Insult the Sox for astronomical ticket prices. Skewer them for commercializing Yawkey Way and slam them for their hypocritical association with lottery gambling. Wet fans drinking flat beer and tepid hot dogs? Please.

John Molori's columns are published in The Boston Metro, Patriots Football Weekly, ColdHardFootballFacts.com, Boston Sports Review, New England Ringside Magazine, Boston Baseball Magazine, Methuen Life, TheRemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonPressBox.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and BostonSportz.com. Email John at MoloriMedia@aol.com.


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