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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explains draft's magic

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NEW YORK -- The green room at the NFL draft is a serious place.

As I walked past Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still's table, I heard his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, begin a statement with, "No matter what happens ..."

Don't expect to hear howling laughter around these parts.
Don't expect to hear howling laughter around these parts.

I didn't stick around to hear how it ended, but it looked like the heaviest conversation since Jack and Bobby talked the Cuban Missile Crisis.

These players obviously are feeling plenty of anxiety, so I asked NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell if the long hugs he gets on stage go back to the jitters these guys feel before their names are called.

(Oh, right. I bumped into the Commish outside his well-furnished green room. His suit was nicer than mine.)

"That's the magic of the draft," Goodell said. "These young men have worked so hard to get an opportunity to become NFL players, it's like they realized their dream. And I think it is a lot of tension coming into it, it's excitement and then relief to know where you're going."

I told Goodell he appeared very excited before announcing Andrew Luck as the first pick Thursday night. Is this weekend the best part of his job?

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"Giving away the Lombardi Trophy is obviously a lot of fun, but this really is a special night for me," Goodell said, "because of that experience of being part of that moment when they become NFL players. That's really great."

I have to bring up the excellent video posted earlier Friday on Deadspin.com, in which the hug of each first-round draft pick was timed and set to a Nintendo-ized version of "Sometimes When We Touch."

"That surprises me a little bit, I never thought about that," he said laughing, referring to the time element of his man embraces. "But it never surprises me the passion people have about this game, what they look at and what interests them. That's one of the things we try to do is allow fans to be engaged and see the real emotion."

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