"Did I get drafted, or are you just happy to see me?"
During the NFL lockout, some players described NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a tyrant and a dictator, a browbeater, and even a slave driver. The oft-fined Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker James Harrison referred to him as "a crook and a puppet." Though most dismiss these characterizations as mere ad hominem attacks by disgruntled players, Goodell did demonstrate at the 2012 NFL Draft that he can be quite touchy... literally.
As is protocol, the commissioner was on center stage for the first-round of the league's draft. And as each draftee was selected and joined Goodell up on stage for his hat and jersey photo-op, the commissioner would greet him with an extended, celebratory embrace. And these weren't exactly your perfunctory, European social gestures. More often than not, they were climactic in nature -- like two men collapsing into each others' arms after outdueling terrorists inside the Nakatomi Tower.
Goodell was doling out the bro hugs like Dick Vermeil churns out the tears. His man-clasps were prolonged, melodramatic... just a little creepy. They were cheek-to-cheek, chin-to-shoulder, nose-to-dreads. They included shoulder pats, back slaps, rock-a-bye's, and gansta' daps. He had a Lady and the Tramp vis-à-vis with Dontari Poe, and a "get a room" moment with Fletcher Cox. And the more the commish got his swag on, the more the draftees seemed to be making a competition out of it; trying their best to outperform those that experienced the Mr. Roger's "Won't you be my neighbor?" treatment before them.
Check out this video posted on Deadspin.com, in which the hug of each first-round draft pick was timed, peculiarly, to either the music of an early-90's Nintendo game, or to Sid Hartman's ringtone. Worth watching at the 2:15 mark is Buffalo Bills' first-round selection Stephon Gilmore's reaction once Goodell goes all Brokeback Mountain on him. The look on Gilmore's face is captured in slo-mo at the :25 mark here. The gaucherie is eerily similar to this.
So, an amoral dictator Roger Goodell is not. But, do not let all the squeezing the Charmin on draft day fool you. Goodell believes strong discipline protects the league against lawsuits, and he will continue to rule the NFL with an iron fist... as well as a Pepé Le Pew-like embrace.