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Ranking Roger Goodell’s greatest draft hugs

Jim Weber
Shutdown Corner

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Roger Goodell hugs Ryan Williams during the 2011 NFL draft. (Getty Images)

LostLettermen.com is a college football and men’s basketball website that regularly contributes to Shutdown Corner. Today, it looks at the best bro hugs NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has given at the NFL draft.

The hugs that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hands out to first round draft picks who emerge from the green room each year has become one of the best parts of the otherwise stuffy event.

After taking over for Paul Tagliabue as league commissioner in 2006, Goodell initially greeted draft picks like his predecessor with standard firm handshakes. That all changed when former Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy blew by Goodell’s handshake for a massive bear-hug after in the 2010 draft to the delight of everyone watching at Radio City Music Hall and at home.

Since that moment, Goodell tosses out his image as the dictatorial commissioner of America’s most popular sport for one day each year with bro hugs that resemble everything from college teammates celebrating a big win to relatives re-uniting after years apart.

With the NFL draft kicking off on Thursday night, I rank Roger Goodell’s greatest bro hugs over the last three years.

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5. Gerald McCoy (3rd pick 2010)

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You just have to include the original bro hug on here. Following a very emotional scene backstage in which the tears started flowing for McCoy after his name was called by Goodell, McCoy opened his arms wide when he neared Goodell on-stage and surprised the commish with a big hug for six seconds. Even normally reserved ESPN analyst Tom Jackson couldn’t help but be moved by the scene.

[See also: Top 50 NFL draft busts: Where are they now?]

Asked about starting the bro hug movement, McCoy recently told ESPN.com: “Yeah, I take pride in it.”

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4. Stephon Gilmore (10th pick, 2012)

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Gilmore went in for a simple handshake but the next thing he knew, the former South Carolina cornerback was sharing a cheek-to-cheek embrace with Goodell. The two appeared to be slow dancing together as their cheeks smashed together and Gilmore’s arms wrapped around Goodell in an iron grip.

[See also: Top 10 worst dressed NFL draft picks ever]

The only thing missing was the Zamboni driver from Happy Gilmoresinging “Endless Love” in the background.

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3. Dontari Poe (11th pic, 2012)

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As you’re about to see, Goodell was just getting warmed up with his bro hugs last year after his exchange with Gilmore.

The length of Goodell’s embrace with Poe one selection after Gilmore pales in comparison to some others on this list but went down in NFL draft lore because of the proximity between their faces that had commissioner and player looking like they were ready to make out. Naturally, the image went viral on the internet and, so far, is the ex-Memphis defensive tackle’s most well-known highlight in the league. This bro hugs receives bonus points for Poe burying his head into Goodell’s shoulder like a new-born child.

[See also: NFL draft's Top 10 Workout Warrior Busts Ever]

We can only hope the image below is hanging somewhere in the commissioner’s office.

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2. Melvin Ingram (18th pick, 2012)

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The exchange between Goodell and Ingram had the look of two fraternity buddies engaging in a secret handshake. After slapping hands five times (forward, backward – which they whiffed on, forward, forward, forward), Goodell went in for the real thing by throwing both his arms over Ingram’s shoulders.

[See also: Grading each member of famed 1983 Quarterback Class]

“It really didn’t take that long,” the former South Carolina defensive end told ESPN.com about teaching Goodell the shake. “I just showed him the handshake, we practiced a couple of times, but he messed it up when we practiced. But when we did it on draft day, he did it perfect.”

Of course he did. Judging by how much he seems to enjoy these bro hugs, Goodell probably spent the entire night before the draft practicing in a mirror.

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1. Fletcher Cox (12th pick, 2012)

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The hug between Goodell and Cox was so emotional it looked more like a father seeing his son become the first person from his family to graduate from college. The commish and ex-Mississippi State defensive tackle rocked back and forth a mind-boggling 11 times while hugging during a marathon eight-second embrace.

Timothy Burke of Deadspin aptly described it as a “any-longer-and-it’ll-be-ranked-PG-13 lovefest” hug.

If Goodell picks up the bromance where he left off in last year’s draft, this year’s first round prospects – and the rest of America – are in for a treat on Thursday night.

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