For the past several years, the NFL has taken the draft on the road to cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, and there have been crowds of tens of thousands of football fans there to cheer on their teams’ selections. This year’s draft was slated to take place in Las Vegas to help celebrate the Raiders’ first season in the city, which is scheduled for this fall.
But with the social distancing going on due to the Coronaviurs (COVID-19), those plans have been scuttled and the league has announced that the draft will be returning to its longtime home in New York — and no fans will be there. Oddly enough, the no-fans part of the plan may make commissioner Roger Goodell happy.
The revised plans for the 2020 NFL draft
Rather than emanating from Las Vegas as planned, the virtual shutdown of that touristy city has caused the NFL to call an audible. In addition to canceling all public events during the April 23-25 draft, the league has also decided to move the event out of Sin City.
According to published reports, the NFL is planning on having the draft take place in a studio setting, with cutaways to teams’ “war rooms” when they are on the clock. Based on that, it appears that the draft broadcast will be a throwback to the days before the event became a primetime TV staple with pomp and circumstance surrounding it.
The tradition of booing the commissioner at the NFL Draft
Goodell isn’t the most popular commissioner in American sports. He has made some controversial decisions in his tenure in the commissioner’s office, which has led to a recent tradition of fans attending the draft booing Goodell on the stage.
The boos often rain down on Goodell as he gets the draft underway. Since he hears the boos every year on the draft stage, he has come to expect them. And he does things to try to mitigate the amount of booing he hears.
The 2019 draft took place in Nashville so he brought then-Titans starting quarterback Marcus Mariota onto the stage with them, hoping to mitigate the boos. But it didn’t work, as the fans in attendance still booed Goodell when the announced that the Cardinals were on the clock with the first pick in the draft.
Trying to use Mariota as a “booing shield” didn’t work as Goodell expected because the large crowd’s disdain for the commissioner was clearly heard on the broadcast. Fans who attend the draft take advantage of being there at what is one of Goodell’s few public appearances each year to voice their displeasure with the job he does as the commissioner.
Why Roger Goodell won’t get booed this year
Regardless of what NFL fans think of Goodell, they won’t be able to boo him at April’s draft — unless they boo him from their home while watching the draft on TV.
That’s because of the lack of a crowd at this year’s draft — a decision that was done in the interest of health and safety in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the no-crowd decision will benefit Goodell by way of the commissioner not having to deal with a crowd showing its displeasure with him by booing.
With the draft taking place in a studio this year, fans won’t be there to boo Goodell when he takes the stage. That also means there won’t be fans there to show their opinion of the players their teams’ drafts. Anyone who wants to get that type of instant reaction on draft selections will have to head to social media to see what fans think of the college players their teams take in the draft.