NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to shake hands with this year’s highly drafted rookies, hand them a jersey and a cap, and welcome them to the NFL on the stage at Radio City Music Hall. But if the players follow the NFLPA*’s suggestion and skip the proceedings, Goodell says the event can go on without them.
“We invite 15 or 20 players to attend the draft,” Goodell told Adam Schefter on SportsCenter. “It’s a special moment for them. It’s a chance for them to realize their hopes and dreams and become an NFL player. It’s a really special moment.”
Asked whether he thinks it would detract from the draft if those 15 or 20 players decided instead to attend an alternate event put on by the NFLPA*, Goodell said the event could go on without them, and that he thinks it would detract mostly from the fans’ experience.
“The draft, in the past, we didn’t have players there,” Goodell said. “It’s just part of our effort to make it a fan event and make it more appealing. I think it’s an element that people love to see, the reaction of these players when they’re selected, and I think that’s part of the excitement of this event.”
Goodell said he hasn’t heard anything from the NFLPA* about any plan to keep players away from the draft, and he said “it’s a shame” that players might be pressured not to attend.
Goodell also addressed comments from players (including Jay Feely on PFT Live) who say the owners showed a lack of urgency and a lack of respect by waiting until the last moment to present their final offer.
“To say that anyone was disrespected? We all did a lot of waiting, myself included over 17 days,” Goodell said. “That’s part of the process.”
Ultimately, the commissioner isn’t sure what’s going to happen next.
“Uncertainty is not good for anybody,” Goodell said. “And that’s what we’re in, a period of uncertainty.”