NFL Network Decison to Bring on Former ESPN Exec Boggles Mind
Step right up, Mark Shapiro.
Having set ESPN on course to ruin with one ill-fated programming move after another, Shapiro is being brought on to the NFL Network as a consultant by his mentor, NFL Network president and CEO Steve Bornstein, who once ran things at the Worldwide Leader.
Think I'm overstating the case? The following is a list of programs or initiatives Shapiro shepherded while he was in charge of programming at ESPN from 2002 to 2005:
"ESPN Hollywood," "Dream Job," "I'd Do Anything," "Beg, Borrow and Deal," "Mohr Sports," "Playmakers," "Tilt," "3" and "The Junction Boys."
Those alone make for a pretty spectacular list of failures ... but wait, there's more.
Under Shapiro's watch, "Sunday NFL Countdown" welcomed Rush Limbaugh, who lasted just long enough to insult Donovan McNabb without adding much in the way of football insight.
Shapiro was also apparently instrumental in ESPN's decision to drop the NHL from its slate, a decision the company apparently still rues and will try to rectify when the league's deal with Versus runs out after next season.
To be fair, Shapiro, while his star was on the rise at ESPN, was in charge of the wonderful "SportsCentury" project, which is among the five best pieces of programming ever to emerge from Bristol.
And there are those who would credit Shapiro for creating the Emmy-winning "Pardon the Interruption" and "Around the Horn." I would not be one of those people, as I believe those shows helped launch the rather noxious trend of people yelling at each other in front of a live camera just for the sake of yelling at each other. But, those shows are popular, so you have to give Shapiro credit for that.
After leaving ESPN, Shapiro became the CEO of Six Flags, working under Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Now, he'll reportedly help beef up NFL Network's game coverage and studio shows. Oh, the irony: the guy who helped create "Playmakers," a fake show the NFL hated, will help shape and mold real shows for the NFL.
What's next? Will CBS hire back former sports division president Neal Pilson, who let Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL walk under his watch? That would make as much sense as the NFL letting Mark Shapiro near its on-air product.