NEW YORK — Observing rock star, errr, commissioner Roger Goodell for just part of one draft round, one quickly realizes a couple of things. One, there’s very little downtime to what he does. Two, the commissioner of the country’s most popular sport is immensely popular with the fandom that I like to call NFL Nation.
Beyond what an outsider might see of Goodell at the draft — which is mainly him walking back and forth to the podium — he spends time in a personal green room offstage that always seems full of visitors, rehearses the pronunciation of prospects’ names, huddles with league officials in the hallways, and when he’s done announcing picks, conducts radio interviews and visits with fans. He spent what seemed like an hour posing for pictures and signing ticket stubs, jerseys and whatever else people could find during the third round Friday inside Radio City Music Hall.
“There’s really nothing hard about the draft day,” Goodell said. “This is a great thing for the NFL, and for these young men. When you see people realize their dreams, and you’re a part of it, it’s a real privilege. It’s a great thing.”
After witnessing his overwhelming popularity the last two days, and feeling at least somewhat secure about my current employment, I suggested he should change his title to the aforementioned name, which at least got a laugh. But he played it straight, and I know he meant it.
“Haha, no, I wouldn’t say that,” Goodell said about his rock-star status. “I will say our fans are very passionate about it. To be able to talk to them and find out how much football means to them and see the enthusiasm they bring, it’s why we do what we do.”
— Frank Tadych