The NFL draft won’t be the same NFL draft, in many ways. In one way, maybe it will be.
Even with the Commissioner announcing the picks from home, he could be continuing his tradition of hearing boos.
“I guess you’re going to have to show up and watch,” Roger Goodell told Peter King for his pre-draft Football Morning in America column. “But I will say this: It’s a big part of the draft. I personally love the engagement with our fans. That [booing] is included. For us, we had to think through, ‘How are we going to bring the fans into the event? How are we going to allow the boo to be a part of the event as it has been in the past?’”
As King explained last week, each pick will include a montage of 15 fans, who will interact with Goodell and/or react to the pick. Unless the NFL encourages them to boo (and if that happens the booing could come off as forced or inauthentic), those 15 fans will lack the herd anonymity that allows fans in one breath to boo Goodell and in another to rush for signatures and selfies.
A response to a question from Sunday’s PFT mailbag raised the possibility of Goodell arranging for his wife and daughters to playfully boo him from his basement when the process starts: “If executed the right way (and it wouldn’t be easy to do it), Goodell could score major points with NFL fans everywhere if he finds a way to poke fun at the fact that, if the draft were happening in Las Vegas, the thousands assembled on the Strip wouldn’t be chanting ‘Wayne NEWWWWW-ton.'”
However it plays out, and as Goodell himself says, you’re going to have to show up and watch. If you care enough about football to be reading these words, and given the broader circumstances that are keeping so many of us at home, there’s a much higher than 50-50 chance that you will.