Draft spotting
The Fabulous Four look down on the NFL podium and ran the main show. Chris Berman is simply so good, you sometimes find it easy to miss his one-liners and smooth linkwork. Chris Mortensen never misses an opportunity to tell you who he knows in the NFL and how much they supposedly tell him. At least he's not as bad at name-dropping as baseball's Peter Gammons who really has lost the plot in recent years.

Mel Kiper, with his wig freshly cleaned, polished and on its best behaviour, was revelling in his annual opportunity to crawl up his own backside, and was without Joe Theismann (the scars of the 2001 arguments between the two were still on the desk) or Jimmy Johnson (totally outshone Kiper in 2002 and wasn't going to get the chance to do it again). So in their place came Dennis Green, desperately in need of some Strepsils and ignoring every chance going to slag off the Vikings.

Quote of the day - Tony Kornheiser
"What do you mean that he's got a lot of upside. He's 320 pounds. He's got a lot of backside." - referring to the Saints' top pick, Jonathan Sullivan.
The back-up team had Mark Malone (or was it Tom Selleck) with Merrill Hoge and Ron Jaworski showing off their video talents at every opportunity. Suzy Kolber was there for the equal opportunities brigade as the token woman, and Mike Golic was there for all the overweight fat b*******s watching from their couches. Bill Romanowski was there in body but was definitely on some other planet based on most of the comments he came out with. Andrea Kremer is just too ugly to be considered female - where's Melissa Stark when you really need her?

No surprises early on as the Bengals take Carson Palmer, catch him trying to escape out of the back door to hail a cab for the Arena League, and force him on stage to pose with a throwback 1980s mesh cap. Fitting really, as this was about the last time the Bengals were any good. Charles Rogers quickly proved that he was drafted by the Lions for his hands and not his brains in a great interview with Chris Fowler who incidentally was last seen in Thunderbirds where his eyebrows played The Hood.

The worst draft comments

The Eagles select DE Jerome McDougle
"You can't knock him down - he's self-raising."

QB Brooks Bollinger is finally selected - "Champagne corks will be popping over that one"

DE Terrell Suggs falls to pick No.10
"That's Madness that is"
And then came the Vikings. Having just made it to the podium as their 15 minutes expired in 2002, they totally missed the boat this time round and had to wait their turn as the NFL's version of It's a Knockout took place at the draft desk with the mascots of the Jaguars, Panthers and Ravens all fought to get their selections in first.

There wasn't even enough time for Byron Leftwich to pose in a Jaguars' jersey which was going to be the only time you were going to see him standing upright in 2003 behind that offensive line. The clip of the Vikings' draft party in Minnesota was a classic with caps and beer cans being thrown in disgust by the only people dressed in purple who could look worse than Barney.

Coaches were brought on in turn by video conferencing (a flash name for some schmuck holding a camera outside the team's headquarters for six hours). Mike Martz looked like he was trying out for the part of a Romulan in Star Trek, Mike Holmgren had obviously been dragged away screaming from his fourth pizza of the day, and Mike Tice was too busy wiping the egg of his face to be taken seriously.

All the players interviewed said all the politically-correct things and the seven top picks brought to New York were all selected very quickly leaving Chris Berman to brilliantly ask if the food from their waiting room could be brought up to the ESPN desk. Poor Chris, it must be the cameras that make him look so big. Just as well though that Ken Dorsey didn't travel to New York as he didn't get picked until late in the 7th round.

As the first round dragged on, the need for humour became more and more evident. Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon from "Pardon the Interruption" were getting nearer the knuckle every time they were on and the passing of the baton from Paul Tagliabue to Gene Washington after five hours signalled the draft dropping down a gear. Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu won the "Worst Hairstyle of the first round" and Mel Kiper nearly wet himself when his pet project, Rex Grossman, went to the Bears with the 22nd overall selection.

And then finally, it was the Bucs' turn at pick 64 to join the party. But three picks before they got there, NASN switched to coverage of the Lightning's playoff game against the New Jersey Devils. Thankfully too. If I'd still been watching in the third round when the Bucs drafted someone who is the spitting image of Phil Jones' 10-year-old son Sam, then I think my TV might have gone through the window.

Paul Stewart, April 2003