With the 2010 NFL Draft now over, everyone (us included) is talking about the guys who were, and weren’t, picked.
But let’s talk about the most memorable moments unrelated to the specific selection of players. We’ve got five of them.
And since the title gives away the top of the list, we’ll start with that one.
1. Matt Millen’s apology.
While engaging in on-air banter regarding fried bologna sandwiches with ESPN colleague Ron Jaworski, former Lions G.M. Matt Millen said, “Ask any Polack from Buffalo how they like them, right Jaws?“
Within a half hour, Millen offered up a somewhat disjointed apology: “Earlier in the telecast of the draft, I made a humorous remark toward Ron Jaworski that could have been misconstrued to people of Polish descent, and I want to apologize because that has absolutely nothing to do. I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Ron Jaworski, very playful over the years, and we jab each other back and forth and that has absolutely nothing to do with my comments toward Ron or anybody . . . of Polish descent. So I apologize. I meant nothing by it.”
Frankly, we’re not sure how Millen’s specific use of “Polack” would be different than the placement of any other ethnic or racial slur if Jaworski had been, for example, Italian, Jewish, Irish, Muslim, African-American, or gay. A slur is a slur, and a speedy apology based on a flimsy explanation that the slur was used in jest doesn’t change that.
2. The Steelers get a preview of coming attractions.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock in round one, the NFL got its first taste of the kind of harassment that the team and, more specifically, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will face in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and elsewhere during the 2010 season, and likely beyond.
As Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to announce the Steelers’ pick, the crowd at Radio City Music Hall loudly chanted “she said no!” The chant quickly ended when Goodell explained that a young fan would be announcing the pick as part of the Make-A-Wish group.
Later, the draft’s D.J. played Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator,” which prompted certain smartasses to point out that the Steelers weren’t on the clock.
3. Antonio Cromartie gets a taste of New York.
Earlier this year, the Chargers traded cornerback Antonio Cromartie to the Jets. The man who has fathered multiple children with multiple women made an appearance at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday, when the league has a hard time keeping the audience amused during the latter rounds of the process.
And so a small but loud pocket of fans amused themselves by greeting Cromartie with this chant: “feed your kids!”
Also appearing at the draft was Jets receiver Braylon Edwards, who wore sunglasses indoors — and who managed not to drop the card when reading the team’s fourth-round selection.
4. Chucky’s day off.
For fans seated in the orchestra level at Radio City Music Hall, the main stage is largely obstructed by the two large, elevated NFL Network and ESPN sets. And on the first two nights of the proceedings, the ESPN platform was occupied by the periodically scowling face of Jon Gruden.
On Saturday, Gruden was gone. We assumed it was pre-planned, given that Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, and Steve Young also had made their exits.
But Gruden was supposed to be there. A “mutual decison” from Gruden and ESPN resulted in the supposedly hard-working Gruden missing four of the seven rounds.
As Rosenthal pointed out, maybe he would have showed up if the third day had begun at 4:00 a.m.
5. Green Room guest list nearly includes a fourth-rounder.
With 17 players attending the draft, the NFL more than tripled its usual invitation list. Three players — Rob Gronkowski, Lamarr Houston, and Brandon Ghee — remained after the first night.
Ghee nearly lasted until the third day, but he was picked by the Bengals late in round three.
Though the league apparently was hoping to include some second-day prospects, the reward that comes from having players in the Green Room beyond Thursday night is outweighed, in our view, by the risk that one or more of them will still be there come Saturday. Moving forward, we’d limit the list to players widely expected to be first-round picks; if any of them slide out of round one, they’ll be certain to be picked by the time round two concludes.