Mel Kiper Jr. is the predominant NFL Draft analyst, with the longtime evaluator working with ESPN to study film and breakdown hopeful prospects since 1984. Although Kiper has made a living and earned his stripes as the OG in the space — which didn’t much exist when he first started — it didn’t come without making serious sacrifices. On of those many sacrifices? Money… and lots of it.
Recently appearing on The Favorites Podcast of The Action Network, Kiper talked about how difficult it was to literally start a whole new industry, which involved putting together draft boards. He mentioned losing money in the first four years and having tons of uncertainty about whether or not it’d work. But he also talked about paying your dues and sticking with it, which then led to him discussing how little his paycheck was from ESPN in his first year with the worldwide leader — and it’s a great reminder to never give up on your goals.
Look, the fact that Mel Kiper Jr. gets paid at all to come up with draft boards and just guess on what NFL teams might be thinking is awesome. Often times, the NFL Draft analyst is way off, too, which doesn’t mean a thing to ESPN if it still means getting attention from football fans during the offseason. In fact, the only person who can be worse at predicting things and still keep their job is a meteorologist, who can say it’s going to rain every day for the next week, only to see the sun shine for those next seven days instead.
Still, the fact that Kiper was so adamant about a groundbreaking industry that he was willing to work for just $400 a year is absolutely insane. You know that old saying about following your passion and not a paycheck? Mel Kiper Jr. is definitely living proof of that, and, now 36 years later, it sure as hell paid off for him.