Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.
01 Mar 2004
Reviewed by Patrick Laverty
Last week we saw six of the lucky dozen get a shot at their Dream Job. This week the other six got to show their stuff and I think ESPN saved the best for first. I give the nod to last week's group, though not by a large margin, but they seemed better overall. Here's the skinny:
Kelly Milligan - First off, Kelly is a guy, a lawyer from Texas. If you've seen any of the ESPN commercials for Dream Job (and how could you miss them?) he's one of the burly blond guys. Kelly led off the competition this week and for the second week in a row, the best performance of the night was the guy who went first. Milligan struggled a little with a Christmas reference early on and even though he was doing the SportsCenter Top 10, he made no reference to it. Other than those shortfalls, he was believable, strong and had good lines. He even got the vote of confidence from judge Tony Kornheiser who said Milligan just "looks like a sportscaster".
Chet Anekwe - Chet has already come up with his own catchphrase, "It's the right way, it's the Anekwe" pronounced a-NECK-way. Born in Nigeria, Chet now lives in Queens, and really did have a bit of the Smoove B smarm feel to him (Onion readers will get the reference). He makes a few too many references to the water cooler, which I missed in his opening as he ran through it a bit quick. He has a small case of head-downitis, which is where the camera catches him looking at the monitor in his desk a bit too long. Chet gets the nod for being fourth best on the night
Zachariah Selwyn - One person mentioned last week they couldn't wait to see the Mick Foley guy do SportCenter and Zach did not let us down. He was excellent. He had some great lines including references to the Beastie Boys and Grease, though sometimes he does border on being over the top. He could tone it down a little and focus more on the sports news delivery. He lets you know when its a punchline with a pause similar to a late night talk show host, just to make sure you don't miss it. Going into this, I was really wondering how the judges would take Zach's look. He has near shoulder-length curly hair, and a flair for suits that Glen Campbell would be proud of. Al Jaffe (ESPN's VP of on-air talent) was not pleased with Zach's look. His first words were "cut your hair" and felt the look was a detriment to Zach's credibility. We'll see in upcoming weeks just how dedicated he is to this project by how seriously he takes Jaffe's suggestion.
At the halfway point, they broke the contestants into pairs to play "Fact or Fiction" where host Stuart Scott would make a statement like "The Eagles will go to the Super Bowl this year" and one contestant had to pick a side to argue and the other had to argue the opposite. This segment was not as good as it could have been without letting the contestants prepare at all. I didn't think anyone really stood out at all and was mostly a waste of ten minutes.
Lori Rubinson - Another FootballOutsiders favorite because she is a Brown University alumnae, however she won't be around long. She's just didn't offer much, very little excitement. Even when she tried to get excited, her voice just got deeper. She did steal a catchphrase from a real SC anchor "he's ok, he's a hockey player", which is one of those no-nos. She also made a reference to shopping while showing a Milan soccer highlight. I don't think shopping references will help to remove the "women can't do sports" stigma. I think Kornheiser hit it right on the head when he described her performance as not good, not bad, just ok. Just ok will certainly not be good enough to beat Mike Hall, Aaron Levine or Kelly Milligan.
Alvin Williams - The fact that he looks and sounds just like Joe Morgan is about the only good thing Alvin had going for him. He was the wild card entry that show sponsor Wendy's got into the competition. Alvin was the only thing that saved Lori Rubinson for another show. I can't think of a thing that he did well. Ahh, he did wear a nice suit. Did you ever have to give a presentation and you had no idea what you were going to say until it was time for the presentation so it just sounded like you were reading it, and badly? That was Alvin. Total monotone, a really bad case of head-downitis going into and out of the highlights, and referred to boxer Arturo Gatti as Arthuro Gaytee. Alvin got his chance at close to 11 pm in my time zone and I just about fell asleep. Let's hope that if there is a Dream Job 2, there is not another wild card entry.
Casey Stern - At 25 Casey says that he's been waiting 25 years for this chance. On this leap day, he got it. He was really good as the highlight showed a woman jumping in the ocean, he threw in a line about how she just saved a bundle on her car insurance by switching to Geico. He made reference to a Biggie size highlight, which is never a bad idea to get a sponsor reference in your highlight. Something like that may have salvaged Alvin Williams to almost be watchable. Casey started to sound like he was reading a little bit too, but it was much better. Standing next to the other contestants, Casey looks like he's about 5'2" which I'm not sure if that will hurt him down the road, but LaVar Arrington keenly noticed "It's good that they raised your chair way up for you". Both Tony and Al seemed very happy with Casey's performance.
The judges tonight were similar to last week, where Tony Kornheiser is there partly for his expertise and partly for the yuks. Al Jaffe is the one that each of the contestants fear and respect the most, and he kept it up with some sharp criticisms and honest compliments. Kit Hoover is gaining on LaVar Arrington for being useless as a judge, as she's just way too nice. She tells everyone they're great, might make one suggestion for improvement, and then finishes with telling them how great they did. LaVar still agrees with the other judges for the most part, but brought some of his own thought some more tonight. He does sound like he thinks he's judging a singing competition or something with his "you came out and did your thang, dog" and "pop your collar, playah" lines, which really could be substituted for better analysis. I'm not too sure how LaVar got chosen for this job, but I hope he sticks to football for some time to come.
Ok, the big decision of the night. Who will get cut to narrow the field down to the Top 10. This week, there was no tiebreaker, it wasn't even close. Alvin garnered all 5 votes to be cut and he was banished to the locker room. The Cinderella story ended in the first round.
Now that every contestant has had a chance to perform, here is my Top 10 for the Dream Job:
10. Lori Rubinson
9. Michael Quigley
8. Chet Anekwe
7. Maggie Haskins
6. Zachariah Selwyn
5. Nick Stevens
4. Casey Stern
3. Kelly Milligan
2. Aaron Levine
1. Mike Hall