Today marks the start of the 2013 NFL Draft. The New York Times has a great story on how the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, has started giving out hugs at the Draft. It all started out in 2010 with Gerald McCoy:
When the Buccaneers selected him with the No. 3 pick in the 2010 N.F.L. draft, McCoy did something no player had done. He strode across the stage and embraced Commissioner Roger Goodell, a spontaneous show of emotion that proved significant: McCoy had broken the hug barrier.
“I wasn’t aware that I was the first when it happened,” McCoy said by telephone, “but I am now.”
Inspired by McCoy, Goodell has become a proactive hugger. But there are hugging rules:
In his predraft briefing with players, Goodell now includes hug-specific instructions. They can hug him for as long as they want, with one caveat: try not to break his ribs. A couple of players have come close. Such are the perils of “bringing it in” with 300-pound offensive linemen.
Charles Siebert profiles the story of Pat Schiller, a Northern Illinois football player who is trying to make the NFL. The story gives an inside look of what it takes to make the NFL if your chances are low. Charles is Pat’s uncle, but don’t let that detail get in the way of superb reporting:
Being an undrafted free agent in the N.F.L. is an extended exercise in ego abnegation. You’re not only stripped of your college number; you’re exiled from the N.F.L.’s mandated numerical bracket for your given position. Linebackers on all final team rosters must bear a number in either the 50s or 90s. Pat, for now, was given 45. As for his fellow undrafted competitors, Max Gruder, a linebacker from the University of Pittsburgh, wore 46; Rico Council, a middle linebacker from Tennessee State, 43; and Jerrell Harris, an outside linebacker for last year’s champions, Alabama, 49. Some days in practice, Pat wore 40 and then was switched back to 45. Coaches and fellow players, meanwhile, were constantly confusing Pat with a third-year safety, Shann Schillinger, whose seniority naturally merited his getting dibs on the nickname “Schill,” thus saddling my nephew with — for obscure reasons — “Patty Melt.”
This story was, perhaps, more interesting to me because Pat Schiller was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, my hometown football team. I think it’s worth the read.