If you’re in New York for the draft this week and you happen to pass by the NFL’s store in Manhattan, look up.
A reader passed along a photo of the images above the shop, which was opened earlier this month in advance of the draft.
The display contains shots of the first overall picks from 2005 through 2011. Except for one: JaMarcus Russell.
And here’s what makes it even more glaring. The display identifies Jake Long as the first overall pick in 2007.
It may not have been an accident. Three faces appear on one side of the display, and three appear on the other, with the 2012 NFL Draft logo in between. And so it goes Alex Smith in 2005, Mario Williams in 2006, Jake Long in 2007, draft logo in the middle, Matthew Stafford in 2009, Sam Bradford in 2010, and Cam Newton in 2011. By putting “2007" next to Jake Long, the absence of 2008 is less noticeable in the symmetrical arrangement of photos.
As to the omission of Russell, it could be that the league has no authority to display his image, now that he is no longer party to the group licensing arrangement between the NFL and the NFLPA. Regardless of the reason, he’s being treated as if he never existed.
Raiders fans have been trying to do that for at least three years.