When it comes to helping the Commissioner avoid the inevitable in-draft boo birds, the NFL tried a half-measure on Friday night. And it didn’t work.
Roger Goodell brought former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski to the podium in Philadelphia to start round two. The crowd, which seems to be nearly as large as it was on Thursday night, didn’t pull back in the face of the bespectacled human shield. Instead, they continued to relentlessly boo Goodell.
Things changed dramatically when Goodell turned the floor over to Jaworski, who was cheered loudly and who had the kind of presence and energy that gets a crowd going. He said that people of Philadelphia will eventually embrace those who do the right thing, and he expressed confidence that the City of Brotherly Love will eventually show something other than hatred for Goodell.
And then Goodell came back to the podium, and the booing instantly became as loud as ever.
Goodell can ignore the noise as much as he wants, but the owners surely don’t like it. Efforts to laugh it off or playfully welcome more booing have legitimized it. The only way to end it is to keep the Commissioner out of sight, and to have people who will be embraced by the locals call out the picks.
I’ve previously suggested that folks like Morgan Freeman or Sam Elliott get the assignment. With the draft going on the road, the folks calling the picks should be local, starting with a well-known favorite son (like, for the first round in Philly, Sylvester Stallone) and then incorporating others, like Jaworski, Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, etc., etc.
It won’t be cheap, because unlike the players these folks will want to be compensated to be part of the reality show. Still, as the draft grows and the crowd grows and the booing becomes sport, the smart move would be the keep the Commissioner backstage and to use people who will spark the kind of reaction Jaworski did. Insisting on trotting out Goodell to an ocean of boos isn’t a good look for Big Shield, and isn’t Big Shield supposedly what it’s all about?