If you want to make Simon Clancy's day, call him the Mel Kiper of Manchester. "He has always been a hero of mine," said Clancy, a producer for BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra. "I grew up on the guy."
Of all the people covering the NFL Draft this weekend, Clancy has one of the more interesting assignments: He'll be analyzing the first round from his BBC office in Manchester, England as part of BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra's coverage of the NFL selectapalooza.
Blimey, the BBC covers the NFL Draft? Yes, they do.
Hosts Darren Fletcher, a popular soccer presenter for BBC Radio 5 Live, and Canadian sports-talk host Greg Brady will be at the Radio City Music Hall in New York while Clancy follows the coverage from England. The trio will go live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra beginning at 7 p.m. ET (midnight in Manchester) and stay on-air through the conclusion of the opening round (Friday morning in Manchester).
Like Sirius NFL Radio and ESPN Radio, they'll analyze every pick, grab interviews with players and team executives, and analyze the draft as a whole. Unlike those entities, there will be no commercials. It's two Brits (Fletcher and Clancy) and one Canadian (Brady) analyzing the most American of non-sporting sporting events.
"There's no question it's a very small portion of the audience we're playing to that knows the NCAA game to any great extent and has seen the players to any great extent," says Brady, who has called the NFL for the BBC since 2006 and is a well-respected sports host for Toronto's Sportsnet 590 The Fan, where he and Jim Lang co-host "Brady And Lang In The Morning."
"As a result, we can't pound NCAA stats to the audience as we would to a North American audience. Let's face it, even if Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III had identical passing stats, the scenarios they play in, the offenses they lead, and the conferences they play in are very different. We'll certainly point out if we think a GM is reaching on a player or if someone got taken high who has an injury concern, but getting too deep NCAA-wise is just going to alienate too much of the audience."
Of course, Clancy is no NFL novice. He has written a draft column for the South Florida Sun Sentinel for years and has studied the draft for a quarter century. He said he watches thousands of hours of tape of college football and is a devout reader of all things NFL draft. Clancy is the sole full-time employee of BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, a digital sister station to BBC Radio 5 Live, which airs live sports, including Premier League soccer, cricket, Olympic sports, MLB baseball and the NFL.
"People might be surprised that this guy is British and watches college football, but growing up as a Dolphin fan, I would spend evenings listening to the NFL on Armed Forces Radio Network," said Clancy, who joined BBC Radio 5 Live Sports last November and has worked at the BBC since 1994. "When it came to the draft, they would mention the picks and sometimes the radio would fade in and out so I'd have to buy the International Herald Tribune in the morning to find out the results.
This is the second year BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra will cover the draft, and Clancy expects about 400,000 to 500,000 listeners will tune in live, with additional people downloading the replay on the BBC's I-player the following morning and throughout the weekend. If the interest proves enough, his crew could join Kiper next season for an additional day of coverage. "I'm a huge NFL fan, and the draft is something I find fascinating because it's something we don't have over here," Clancy said. "I know I'd be keen to extend this to Friday so we can do the second and third rounds as well."