When Roger Goodell calls the name of the top draft pick Thursday night in front of millions watching at home and in person in Las Vegas, what has seemingly become a tradition will play out before our eyes.
An emotional young man will walk out onto the stage wearing his new draft hat, will see the bright lights and realizing his dream has come true, will embrace…Goodell in a bear hug.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, now enjoying retirement and free from any potential monetary fines from the league, spoke freely about the pomp and circumstance surrounding the draft and the odd moment with Goodell on stage during an appearance on the 102.5 WDVE morning show with Randy Baumann Thursday morning.
“Oh, I can’t get fined anymore. I tell guys now, why y’all…do y’all realize y’all are gonna hug Roger and then in about a year, you’re gonna realize, why did I hug that guy?'” Roethlisberger said, according to audio from iHeart radio. “They don’t get it though. It’s okay. It’s their moment. They’re gonna go up, they’re gonna hug. It’s gonna be great. And you know, Roger, that’s his time to shine and he just gives him the biggest bear hugs and loves in the moment.”
Well then. That’s the first time we’ve truly heard Roethlisberger have any sort of opinion regarding Goodell.
While it might sound harsh and a bit out of nowhere, Roethlisberger is spot on. It’s a strange tradition that happens in that moment, one that started roughly a decade ago with Gerald McCoy in 2010.
Sure, it’s an emotional moment, but it’s pretty strange to see a player that has worked his entire life to reach that moment and then share an embrace with Goodell, who really soaks in the spotlight on stage whenever he can. It’s especially strange to consider that players are entering the workforce that Goodell oversees, handing out suspensions and fines when necessary.
We’ll see how many players embrace Goodell in a hug Thursday night in Las Vegas. Based on his comments Thursday morning, Roethlisberger — if he’s even watching — will be questioning it the entire time.