So with the draft heading to Dallas and FOX ready to broadcast the event into millions of additional homes, an important question regarding the execution of the draft comes back to the front burner: Will Commissioner Roger Goodell continue to announce the first-round picks?
It’s one of the most public aspects of the Commissioner’s job. In recent years, however, the crowds at the draft have incessantly booed him. The bigger the crowd, the louder the boos.
Last year in Philadelphia, he heard it from 70,000 Eagles fans who had no particular reason to be upset with him. This year in a Dallas-area stadium that can hold more than 100,000, Cowboys fans still salty about the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott will have extra motivation to make themselves heard.
Goodell, for his part, embraces the opportunity to show everyone he can take it. He has, at times, opted to encourage fans to “bring it on,” and bring it on they do. Others in positions of power and influence within the NFL don’t like it, and for good reason. It’s a very bad look for the league to have the Commissioner booed so relentless and mercilessly — and for the Commissioner to openly challenge those booing him to boo him more with more passion and zeal.
Now that the draft will be televised by a broadcast night, the time has come for a not-so-graceful exit by the Commissioner from the task of announcing the picks. In his place, the NFL should hire a professional host who would either announce the picks or introduce others (like former players from a given team or a celebrity fan of that team) to announce each selection.
Steps already have been taken to thin the flock of boo birds. Last year in Philly, the Friday night activities began with Eagles legend Ron Jaworski accompanying Goodell. Jaworski was cheered; Goodell was once again booed. The next day, there was no sign of Goodell at the podium, and there was no booing.
With the 2018 draft destined to have both the biggest crowd and largest TV audience ever, the time has come to acknowledge that the Commissioner of the sport shouldn’t be serving as the master of ceremonies for the NFL’s biggest non-game night of the year.