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ESPN CFB Analyst Desmond Howard Reflects On Returning To Cleveland To Cover The NFL Draft On ABC

"I am 'sooo' excited to be covering the Draft in my hometown," says Howard, a No. 4 overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft and eventual Super Bowl MVP

ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard loves his hometown of Cleveland, where he makes time to visit the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. (Photos: Desmond Howard/Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard is no stranger to the NFL Draft.

The former Michigan wide receiver and 1991 Heisman Trophy winner was selected fourth overall in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team. Howard went on to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars – with whom he scored the first game-winning touchdown in team history – the Green Bay Packers (Super Bowl XXXI MVP), Oakland Raiders, and Detroit Lions.

While the 2021 NFL Draft is meaningful to the hundreds of athletes waiting to hear their names, it also holds significance for Howard. He is covering his fourth NFL Draft with College GameDay, but this time in his hometown of Cleveland. Howard starred at St. Joseph’s High School.

Before ESPN and ABC’s coverage of the NFL Draft unfolds tonight (8 ET/5 PT), Howard answered some questions for Front Row.

What does it mean to you to be covering the NFL Draft in your hometown?
I am sooo excited to be covering the Draft in my hometown. Cleveland is such a fun and loyal sports town. The fans love their sports and their home teams. When LeBron [James] returned and won an NBA World Championship with the Cavs, it gave Cleveland new life. The Browns seem to be heading in the right direction with [head coach] Kevin Stefanski winning coach of the year and the Browns winning their 1st playoff game since 1994. Oh yeah, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is awesome!

I love the way the NFL and ESPN/ABC have been able to showcase other cities during the Draft in recent years. Nashville was really special, for example. But to be in my hometown, covering an event that is so rich in football tradition and was a big part of my dreams growing up, feels a bit surreal. I’m really looking forward to it.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is located in Cleveland, and I know you’re a big music fan. Did those roots contribute to your love of music?
I grew up in what I consider the platinum age of music. The music from the mid- 70s to late 80s was the soundtrack of my childhood. My dad was a big influence on me when it came to cultivating my love for music. He played music a lot at home and taught me an appreciation for all the greats — especially old school R&B artists.

Long before he was selected fourth overall in the 1992 NFL Draft, Howard (in white suit) was a style icon. (Desmond Howard/ESPN)

Growing up in the Midwest, the Motown sound was huge! The amazing thing about Motown was the influence it had globally. Artists from the Bee Gees to The Beatles talk about how they were inspired by Motown artists. And I haven’t even mentioned rap!

I recently had a chance to come back to Cleveland to celebrate my mom’s birthday and was able to take her and my brothers on a special, behind-the-scenes tour of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It wasn’t my first visit there, but it was the most memorable.

Playing off the music theme, you’re known for having vinyl behind you in your “live from home” setup. If you had to pick an album or song to describe the feeling of draft night best, what would it be?
“Lose Yourself” by Eminem. I also love Michael Jackson, so “Off The Wall” or “Thriller,” too.
Washington Post April 2018: Desmond Howard’s NFL Draft memories
SportsCenter: Howard on Top 2021 NFL Draft WR prospects

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