Would you hug Roger Goodell? Is this a face that demands embrace? Probably not, assuming you’re not his spouse, or child, or one of the 32 men whose lifelong dreams of earning millions as a professional football player came true upon hearing the NFL commissioner read your name last night.
But these are down times for Draft Day P.D.A. Only 17 of the 32 players selected in the 2019 NFL Draft’s first round attended the festivities in Nashville, and those who showed up were stingy with the love—the longest cuddle with the commish lasted just past eight seconds, and the median elapsed hug time was a just-friendsian 2.352 seconds. That’s barely longer than the shortest hug measured the first time we started examining such things, seven years ago.
But perhaps what we’ve learned most from this experience isn’t about the players, or the commissioner, or about the reduced role of physical contact in 2019 society. What began as an exercise in cynicism—a look at newly conscripted NFL players showing love to a man who would, shortly, represent the collective ownership against which they would be signing contracts with a rookie wage scale that severely depressed their worth—now comes across a little differently.
What I see in this video—which, to be fair, is no more or less silly than it was upon the premise’s inception seven years back—is a number of young men who, upon the realization of their lifelong dreams, are expressing pure joy in the moment. The draft may be a tool wielded by the owners to further cap players’ earning potential, but it is also the best night of many of those same players’ lives. If this touches you, embrace it.