May 30, 2023

The NFL Draft Delivered — AWKWARDLY — In A Time Of Desperation

It’s live sports! Or at least the next-best thing. Certainly a better thing than that ill-fated H-O-R-S-E tournament a few weeks back. The 2020 NFL Draftdelivered two new offensive linemen to New York City and a few intriguing sights for weary sports fans. We set our watch by it …

7:52 p.m.: We click on ESPN and … Oh my god! What is Trey Wingo wearing?!?!?!

7:55: Those of us who’ve seen our friends frozen on Zoom the past few weeks, or found ourselves muted, are looking intently at how well the draft goes from person to person. Not bad. Dan Graziano’s pandemic beard is quite dashing. Sal Paolantonio’s NYU diploma (master’s degree, journalism) beats a fake bookshelf any day. Michael Irvin’s suit …

7:58: Seriously, Wingo looks like he raided Michael Corleone’s closet. Or Nathan Detroit’s.

8:00: Peyton Manning narrates the intro, of course, because in about seven months, Peyton will have voiced more NFL things than John Facenda.

8:05: Roger Goodell’s basement is brought to you by Schaefer, the one beer to have when you’re having more than one (that’s a Kiner’s Korner reference, kids).

8:07: A moment of silence. Appropriate. But still odd, on TV.

8:08: Saints fan Harry Connick Jr. soothes his way through the anthem.

8:09: Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s GP.

8:14: Wingo warns Sollozzo and McCluskey that he doesn’t want his father bothered again, then asks to go to the bathroom.

8:17: The Bengals are on the clock.

8:25: The first of 32 awkward moments when Goodell stares at the Zoom collection of team fans and welcomes boos. The beer ad with #BooTheCommish was a lot better.

8:26: Joe Burrow, sharing a couch with Mom and Dad, finishes off a Cinderella story and becomes the No. 1 pick in the draft. Sweet moment. No hug this year. No bling. No jersey. Seems perfect, actually.

8:31: Wingo does a show-stopping rendition of “Luck Be a Lady.”

8:39: The Giants are on the clock!

8:48: Andrew Thomas, offensive tackle, Georgia. Solid pick.

8:50: Both Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge believe in bare, spartan work rooms. It does appear that Gettleman’s WiFi is working. Progress!

8:51: Where is Abby the dog? Judge’s ear is pressed against the phone. He’s out of camera range before he may or may not ask Gettleman, “What, did Isaiah Simmons opt to play pro lacrosse instead?”

8:52: Wingo warns Fredo: “Don’t take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.”

8:53: Louis Riddick has my favorite backdrop. That is an old Coleco electronic football game on his shelf. That wins draft night, right there.

8:55: Dolphins pick Tua Tagovailoa. Goodell nails the surname flawlessly. Attaboy, Commish.

9:03: Goodell announces Justin Herbert to the Chargers. Remarkably, someone is able to locate 15 Chargers fans to take part in the Zoom gimmick. They don’t boo Goodell very loudly. Probably because they’re just screen fillers.

9:28: The Jets are on the clock!

9:31: Joe Benigno, Fireman Ed and Ira from Staten Island simultaneously spontaneously combust, as they hear the name “Johnny ‘Lam’ Jones” emerge from the recesses of their collective memory.

9:32: Wingo tells Carlo, “You have to answer for Santino.”

Enlarge Imageroger goodell 2020 nfl draft fans tv jets
Roger Goodell and a TV full of Jets fans.Screengrab via NFL Network

9:33: The producers miss an opportunity to get 932,755 Jets fans on the largest Zoom in Zoom history together. Now that would have made the boo-the-commish gag funny!

9:34: No boos necessary. The Jets go with beef: Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, who is 6-foot-7, 364 pounds, and won’t just block for Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, he’ll block out the sun for the rest of his teammates.

9:35: The camera catches Becton’s father embracing his son, and suddenly, amazingly, Mekhi looks like Peter Dinklage.

9:36: Outstanding array of Jets helmets past and present on Joe Douglas’ desk.

9:38: What color are we assigning Michael Irvin’s suit jacket? Ruby? Rusty? Redwood? Vermillion? Does it glow in the dark?

9:44: Wingo screams at Pentangeli: “In my home! In my bedroom! Where my wife sleeps and my children play with their toys …”

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