This was the moment that put the televised NFL draft into the stratosphere.
By 1994, wall-to-wall draft coverage had been a staple of ESPN programming for a long time. By that time they were 25 years removed from airing time fillers like “The World’s Strongest Man” competitions. And it’d be another 26 years before they’d be airing time fillers like “The National Stone Skipping Chamopionahips.” But was this blood feud between Mel Kiper and Colts GM Bill Tobin that made it truly great., Must See TV.
Kiper expected Tobin to take a quarterback - either Heath Shuler or Trent Dilfer - with one of their two Top 7 picks. When Tobin took Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk and trades up to No. 5 yo get LB Trev Alberts instead, Kiper tore him to shreds. In an interview, Tobin was an angry ball of resentment, demanding to know why he had to answer to the opinions of this nobody with the instant classic, “Who in the hell is Mel Kiper anyways?” While Kiper seethed like his whole existence was being questioned and Tobin became a hero to other GMs who were sick of Kiper’s second guessing. Then Kiper fired back with one of the all time “Oh no, he didn’t!” moments. it was beautiful.
The fact Heath Shuler is one of the biggest busts ever and Alberts didn’t reach 50 tackles in his three seasons is irrelevant. It wasn’t about who was right and who was wrong. It was a battle of Pundit vs. Pro. Expert vs. Lifer. Outsider vs. Insider. And the winner was everybody.