It's not often these days that NFL players show love for Roger Goodell.
While there are certainly players who respect the commissioner, recent polls show that nearly two-thirds of all players disapprove of the job the commissioner has done.
So it will certainly be nice for Goodell to get off on the right foot with the league's newest stars on Thursday.
While NFL and NBA players used to exchange a cold and sometimes awkward handshake with the commissioner after their name was called, three years ago Gerald McCoy broke with tradition and brought Goodell in for a huge hug.
McCoy told the New York Times he wasn't sure how he wanted to react when his name was called, and he remembers asking the commissioner before the draft if there would be any penalty for showing too much emotion.
“If somebody does something out of the blue because they’re overwhelmed with excitement," McCoy asked Goodell, “do we get fined for that? Or penalized?”
The commissioner promised McCoy he would not get in trouble for celebrating. The commissioner's assurance got the 6-foot-4, 300-pound McCoy thinking about just how to react. McCoy thought of his mother, Patricia, who had passed away three years ago from complications of a brain aneurysm. Patricia was a "huge hugger," and when McCoy walked out on stage after Goodell called his name, he unintentionally channeled his mother. McCoy had promised himself that he wouldn't stage his reaction, he wanted it to be natural. And what happened was both beautiful and trend-setting.
Arms spread wide, McCoy engulfed Goodell and held on tight. He said he could even hear Goodell making a grunting noise.
Although it sounds like an unpleasant experience for Goodell, the commissioner has come to enjoy the embraces. And that's a good thing, because this year the top four picks might all be tackles.
“[Goodell] loves it,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the New York Times. "He's said that besides the Super Bowl, the draft is his favorite event of the year."
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