June 13, 2024

The tradition of the Roger Goodell hug is an iconic moment for players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's contract reportedly to be extended to  March 2027 - Yahoo Sports

However, this year’s first-round draft picks might miss out on this well-known tradition. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Roger Goodell recently underwent back surgery, which could prevent him from embracing the top picks in this year’s draft.

Goodell’s hugs have endured various circumstances over the years. While there were no hugs during the virtual NFL Draft in 2020 due to COVID-19, they made a return in 2021.

The tradition of the commissioner’s embrace has evolved over time. Doug Williams of ESPN detailed the history in 2023, noting that when Goodell began overseeing the draft in 2007, top picks like JaMarcus Russell and Calvin Johnson received handshakes or brief embraces. Goodell’s approach varied in subsequent years, with some players receiving hugs or half-hugs while others received handshakes. For instance, Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall pick in 2009, received only a handshake and a pat on the shoulder.

In 2010, there was a notable shift in Goodell’s approach to the draft embrace. After Sam Bradford was selected first overall (resulting in a back pat and slight hug), followed by Ndamukong Suh at No. 2 (receiving a handshake and arm pat), the Buccaneers picked Gerald McCoy from Oklahoma.

As McCoy approached Goodell on stage, the commissioner extended his hand for a handshake. However, McCoy, grinning and standing at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, spread his arms wide, disregarding the handshake, and embraced Goodell in a hug that lasted six seconds.

During the embrace, Goodell allegedly quipped to McCoy, “you’re crushing me now.”

From that moment on, Goodell has been known for offering hearty embraces and bro hugs to all who want them during the draft.

However, this year, that cherished tradition is at risk due to Goodell’s recovery, which may prevent him from continuing this beloved aspect of the draft. Given the abundance of talent in the offensive line among this year’s first-round picks, it might be a wise decision.



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