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Why did NFL commish call top-five draft pick 'Silverback'?

Shutdown Corner

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell approached the podium to announce the fourth selection at Thursday night's NFL draft with his usual solemn demeanor.

"With the fourth pick in the NFL draft," he said, "the Washington Redskins select Trent 'Silverback' Williams, offensive tackle from Oklahoma."

Collectively, football fans around the nation had the same exact thought: "Wait, did he just say 'Silverback'?"

He did indeed. As part of an inside joke with the massive Oklahoma tackle, Goodell gave Williams' nickname when announcing his selection by the 'Skins. The offensive lineman says he got the name from his Oklahoma teammates, who said his beastly play on the field deserved its own beastly nickname.

The bigger question is how did Goodell come to say the name? Nobody could ever remember the commish doing something similar with another player during the draft. Luckily, Williams shed some light on the subject to the Washington Post's Rick Maese:

"We had a meeting with [Goodell] in the office and I was just joking around with him. It was kind of quiet and I just wanted to throw a little joke in. He asked me, did I want him to do it? I said, 'Go ahead.' I really didn't think he would."

That's great stuff. Not only did Williams have the thrill of being announced as the fourth pick of the draft, but he got to revel in a gag with the most powerful man in the sport.

All kidding aside (well, sort of), Redskins blogger Matt Terl points out that this may set a dangerous precdent for Goodell. Will the floodgates now open for other players to make similar requests? Next year will we hear the commish say, "with the first pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Cameron 'Mini-Ironhead' Heyward?"

Goodell projects the image of a no-nonsense guy, so we'd imagine the nickname announcement will be a one-time thing. It's tough to imagine him calling a 300-pound lineman "Delicious" next April. Still, it's refreshing that a league and commissioner which often take themselves too seriously were able to provide an impromptu, light-hearted moment one on the sport's biggest stages.

Maybe the "No Fun League" is getting a little more merry.

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