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NFL Commish Roger Goodell’s recent back surgery could prevent traditional hugs at NFL Draft: report

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to walk to the podium Thursday night to open the 2024 NFL Draft. 

NFL prospects will hear Goodell announce their names. The draftees will then put on their new team’s hat and walk across the stage for a photo opp with Goodell. But they might not get the commissioner’s signature hug. 

Goodell underwent surgery on his back about three weeks ago, ESPN reported.

While Goodell has “recovered well,” he still might shy away from the signature hug out of an abundance of caution.

It remains unclear if top prosects were given any kind of advanced warning about how to approach Goodell Thursday night.


“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell underwent back surgery three weeks ago, has recovered well, but it remains uncertain whether he will be able to offer his patented draft-day hugs. Draft-time decision,” NFL insider Adam Schefter wrote on X.


Detroit is hosting this year’s draft. Goodell previously praised Detroit for the strides the city’s downtown area has made over the years. 

“You do it your way. You show off this community the way it deserves. What you’ve done in this community is amazing. I’ve been coming here for decades,” Goodell said in January. “You see what you’ve done physically in the downtown area, but it’s really as much about the way you’ve come together.

“The public and the private sector, and you’ve rallied around this community. And I think the people around the world should see it. And you are going to have that opportunity. And if everyone sees what Detroit really is and the passion of the people in this community, that will be a successful draft.”

Roger Goodell speaks to the media

The NFL confirmed at least 13 prospects were invited to attend the draft in person. Quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels were inside the green room ahead of the draft.

Lamar Jackson hugs Roger Goodell

Williams delivered one of the most prolific college football careers in recent memory and is widely expected to be the first player off the board Thursday.

The first round of the NFL Draft begins Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, and the remaining four rounds conclude Saturday.

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