Roger Goodell will have human boo shields on Thursday night
Booing the Commissioner at the draft has become part of the experience in recent years, due in large part to the fact that the Commissioner’s coping mechanism periodically consists of encouraging it. On Thursday night, the NFL will try to discourage it, based on the people who are sent to the stage with Roger Goodell.
Via ESPN.com, Goodell will be accompanied by Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, and future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten.
“I’m sure he’s going to get a good response with us being out there,” Staubach said. “If they boo, all of us are in trouble.”
But, Roger, they will still boo the other Roger. The league tried something like this in Philly last year on the second night of the draft, bringing former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski out with Goodell to start round two. The crowd cheered Jaworski, and then the crowd booed Goodell. Unless Goodell will never be mentioned individually, there will be an occasion when he enters with three Cowboys legends to specifically target him with audible negative feedback.
The fact that the draft is happening in Dallas, where Cowboys fans are surely still salty about the six-game suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, makes the booing even more likely. And Troy and Jason and Roger he crowd likes may catch some of the shrapnel. But they’ll know it’s not meant for them.
Also, Goodell will be taking the stage 32 total times tonight. Unless he’ll be escorted every time by Staubach, Aikman, and/or Witten, the crowd will have repeated chances to let him have it.
The fact that the league is going to these extremes underscores the reality that Goodell should simply stop being the face and voice of the draft. As the draft grows, it is outgrowing the sport’s Commissioner. They need a true host of the night, someone who has the requisite skills, who knows how to play to the crowd, and who will be met with praise not derision.
They supposedly want the TV coverage to eventually mimic the presidential election. The TV presentation needs to start mimicking the Oscars. As the crowd grows, having a host/emcee whom the crowd wants to boo simply doesn’t work, and no amount of former Cowboys or other human shields will keep Goodell from being booed loudly and repeatedly, all night long.