The NFL Draft was held in New York City for most of the league’s existence, for all of the years from 1964 to 2014.
When the draft began traveling to different cities in 2015, NFL fans from all over started greeting commissioner Roger Goodell with warm regards and some cheers, but more boos than anything whenever he would take the podium.
The boos reach as far back as the 2011 NFL Draft in Radio City Music Hall when quarterback Cam Newton was the first overall pick for the Carolina Panthers.
Goodell has also been booed at the 2017 draft in Philadelphia, the 2018 draft in Dallas, the 2019 draft in Nashville when the production crew worked hard to edit the audio, and pretty much every year ever since.
So why do fans feel the need to give the leader of their favorite sports league grief?
It is one of the few opportunities that Goodell addresses fans of the league in a mass setting. With frustrations that fans have with the league (whether it’s with fines, referees or a decision made by the league office), this is the one time throughout the year that fans as a whole get to interact directly with the NFL and its officials.
So as the face of the league takes the podium to announce draft picks, fans have begun to greet him with boos rather than cheers.
The NFL commissioner is not the only league leader that receives boos from crowds at drafts.
Commissioners from the NHL and NBA have received boos as well from crowds during their leagues’ drafts as well.
Goodell is no stranger to hate: At least once during the draft, he asked fans to be louder with their jeers.
He has embraced his “villain” role and since there are no genuine complaints about fan behavior, the boos will likely continue as long as he is in command.