NFL draft: Roger Goodell invites us to his basement

Jay Busbee
·3 min read

[This is an excerpt from the April 13 edition of Yahoo Sports’ morning newsletter. Tap here to subscribe, free, and get the best sports delivered right to your inbox every morning.]

Welcome back to the week, friends! Hope you’re staying safe. The NFL draft edges ever closer, and this weekend, we got a bit more news as to how this unprecedented rookie parade is going to go down.

You’re probably already aware that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is apparently the kind of guy who looks at the resplendent overindulgence of an Oscars red carpet extravaganza and says, “Eh. A little drab. Could be splashier.”

How else to explain the ever-increasing garishness of the NFL draft, a draft that, under other circumstances, was going to feature players getting ferried to the stage on boats in Las Vegas? We were seriously about two years away from throwing draftees out of planes with their new team names emblazoned on their parachutes, but now … well, you know.

Of all the strange new restrictions now placed on our lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the only ones that’s given me any kind of a smile is the news that Goodell will apparently do the 2020 NFL draft not from a stage in New York or Chicago or Vegas, but from … his own basement.

Welcome to Roger's basement. (Yahoo Sports illustration)
Welcome to Roger's basement. (Yahoo Sports illustration)

Yes, the commissioner of a league so important that, as the saying goes, it owns a day of the week is now forced to host its most important offseason event via teleconference, and its central figure will be downstairs like he's hiding from his family. That’s prime humor right there. (Come on, wouldn’t it be great if Goodell’s down there announcing the Bengals’ pick while standing among boxes of Christmas decorations, an unused treadmill and old preschool paintings?)

This entire NFL draft is shaping up to be a cluster of epic proportions, in part because the NFL takes itself so seriously that it believes this draft deserves all the gravitas of a presidential inauguration.

Let’s be honest: The NFL draft is a tricked-up job fair, important mainly because it gives fans hope that they’ve just acquired the missing piece to a championship squad. (Jets fans not included.) It can be done over phones with pencil and paper, and this year, it pretty much will be.

I know that sounds incredibly deflating (sorry, Tom) to NFL executives. But the league will survive. Matter of fact, I’d like to use this moment of crisis to speak directly to the commissioner:

Mr. Goodell — Can I call you Roger? We’re all casual these days — Rodge, I appeal to you, sir: just this once, ditch all the pomp and circumstance. Enough with the elaborate knighting ceremony that is the draft. Just be yourself. No suit and tie. No mid-three-figures haircut. Just be a dude in his mancave.

Shoot, why not go full quarantine? Show up on camera sporting three days’ growth of beard, a Bronxville High School hoodie, and those old basketball shorts your wife wants to burn … you know, just like the rest of us right now. Trust me, it’ll go over great. We’re all in this together, right?

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at

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