It was one month ago that the 2012 NFL Draft concluded. The top ten draft-related headlines which did not get nearly the attention they rightfully deserved continues with #9.
Michael Irvin vs. Hermann Edwards
Which do you believe is less watchable: former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and now NFL Network "analyst" Michael Irvin, or former player/coach and current ESPN "commentator" Herm Edwards?
Rick Spielman's approach to free agency this past off-season may very well have been inspired by the manner in which the NFL Network has assembled a broadcast roster from other teams' cast-offs. With Deion Sanders, Brian Baldinger, Sterling Sharpe and Joe Theisman making up but a portion of those football analysts and commentators having found refuge at the NFL Network after having been dismissed from other stations, NFLN has become a sort of Misfit Island for NFL broadcast derelicts. And if the above-mentioned were the equivalent to the Spotted Elephant, Charlie-In-The-Box, the ostrich-saddling buckaroo and the boat that can't stay afloat, Michael Irvin would unequivocally be Yukon Cornelius -- the "misfit among misfits."
Irvin's seven-button suits, horn-rims-for-show, and snow globe earings are emblematic of his personality: all flash and little substance. His "goofing off in the back of the classroom" antics are puerile and annoying, and more often than not, turn legimate debates being had on the set into farcical renditions of really bad SNL skits. With Irvin's charisma being limited to a perpetual state of cackling and a perspective on players that always begin and end with him yodeling a primodial "Woooo," viewers could get as much inight from a squeeze doll. Irvin's act wore thin while at ESPN and he was replaced with Keyshawn Johnson. That is worth saying again: Irvin was replaced by Keyshawn Johnson. In other words, at some point the ESPN decision-makers decided that Keyshawn Johnson was a more professional alternative to Irvin. How is it even possible that Keyshawn Johnson is a more professional anything over anyone?
The only positive which comes from watching Irvin is how uncomfortable he makes his colleagues feel having to sit near him in-studio. The "Playmaker" was renown for his hands on the field and is notorious because of them off of it. It is as though his hands are independent from his body the way they constantly flail about like fan rotors, slam down on the desktop, tomahawk the air in front of his face, or slap at and grab the first person to come within an arm's-length. Steve Mariuchi has become so jittery around the guy that it takes but the slightest movement from Irvin's talons to startle "Mooch" half out of his chair. (You can watch Irvin get his grope on early and often with Vikings first-round pick Matt Kalil here.)
With all that going for him, there is little chance the NFL Network would ever show him the door since hiring him in the first place was obviously an act of magnanimity; and just possibly Commisioner Roger Goodell's attempt to keep the miscreant out of trouble. But, it is comforting to know that if that day were ever to arrive, Irvin certainly could survice on arm-talent alone as a traffic cop or -- with a résumé replete with expertise in fondling people -- prosper as a TSA body screener.
On ESPN, it is the always animated, often disoriented Herm Edwards who marked this year's draft coverage with a distinct, rancid scent of maladroitness. Edwards -- whose greatest contribution hitherto to the sport he seemingly knows very little about is a press-conference rant which was eventually turned into a Coors Light commercial -- prides himself on his motivational speaking skills. Because of this, Edwards too often tries to add to his demo reel and attacks every question asked with the pizzazz of one auditioning for the final speaking slot between Steve Forbes and Apolo Ohno at the Get Motivated seminar. His commentary usually amounts to nonsensical gibberish and ends in him vivaciously arguing against a point he himself made at the beginning of the debate.
But, as well, it is this very taste for theatrics which generates Edwards' greatest strength: his acting skills.
In this video, observe how Edwards stands out amongst the ESPN ensemble as they play Vikings war room before the draft. Like any gifted thespian schooled in Lee Strasberg's method acting, Herm becomes so immersed in the role he is playing that he evidently forgets that he is indeed playing a role. Check out the 5:20 mark of the video as Herm keeps his voice down so as "the caller" does not overhear him. And, then at the 6:55 mark as he drops his chin into a clenched fist though effortlessly impersonating John Kennedy contemplating Khrushchev's next move during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It really is like watching a young Pacino doing a scene with the cast of Sesame Street, isn't it?
And for those of you thinking that the ESPN "skit" looks familiar, but are unable to recall where you may have seen it before, here's a hint: Mr. Buttlicker.