Behind The ScenesNFL

How you like the NFL Draft picks now? 50 Cent, The Heavy and ESPN team up on creative approach

ESPN often opens a game or coverage of a major event with a “tease,” a two-to-three minute prelude serving as an a mood-setter and customized for special events or telecasts.

Tonight, the tease for ESPN’s NFL Draft telecast (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) will introduce fans to the top prospects in this year’s class, while also reminding them of one of the great stories from last year.

Seahawks All-Pro quarterback Russell Wilson, who guided Seattle to a playoff run after being picked in third round of the 2012 draft, will appear in the tease and also voices it.


Multiplatinum recording artist 50 Cent and English rock band The Heavy — whose song How You Like Me Now? will be used in the open — provide the soundtrack.

“The whole feel of the piece from the song we’ve chosen with the horns and the old school James Brown feel, to the way we had the draft prospects dressed in all black. . . [It] just really tied together,” said ESPN Content Associate Darryl Greene.

Greene’s involvement included developing the overall concept, offering creative direction for 50 Cent’s lyrics, securing equipment and apparel and orchestrating two photo shoots: one at February’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and the other in Brooklyn, New York, in April with 50 Cent and The Heavy.

In Indianapolis, Greene was joined by colleague Ben Cerny, a graphics/playback producer who acted as the “flight controller” as the duo captured expressive moments from more than 100 NFL Draft prospects at two different sets. In all, 62 players will be featured in the tease; others will be spotlighted in player “bumps” throughout the three-day telecast.

“Ben was the guy who everybody looked to when there were seven guys who showed up at once, including four first-rounders,” Greene said. “We had probably half an hour to get everything we needed from all of them.”

While Cerny was responsible for the logistics and content, Greene guided the creative side, asking athletes to suit up in black athletic gear — helmets, shoulder pads, gloves and cleats — and lip sync to How You Like Me Now?

Mike Sciallis and Rico Labbe of Victory Pictures — the creative team behind ESPN’s Monday Night Football opens — also worked with Greene and provided the creative direction for the project.

“In all my years working on the Draft, it’s one of the best examples of cross-departmental collaboration that I’ve ever been a part of,” Greene said. “It’s a great team environment. Everybody just really buys in and really focuses on doing a great job.”

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