Goodell: 'This is a great celebration'

NEW YORK -- Between announcing first-round picks at his first draft as NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell sat down for an exclusive interview with NFL.com at Radio City Music Hall: What has it been like to be the only person other than Paul Tagliabue to announce the first-round picks since 1989?<

"It's obviously a thrill for me personally. This is such a great day for the NFL and for these young players who have worked so hard to get here and see their dream come true. The highlight, really, for me was sitting down with those five kids (invited to New York for the draft -- JaMarcus Russell, Calvin Johnson, Gaines Adams, Adrian Peterson and Brady Quinn) on (April 27) and hearing about their dreams and how excited they were. This is just a great day for them.

"It's a lot of fun. This may be one of the greatest days because my duties are really simple. As long as I don't screw up a pronunciation, I'm OK.

"This is a great celebration, not only of college football but also of our teams. It's a renewed hope for people who are starting to say, 'Listen, is this guy going to make a difference and help my team make it to the Super Bowl?' "

Roger Goodell put a small personal touch at his first draft as commissioner.

You put a little bit of a casual touch to it when you called it to order as the "2007 draft." Your predecessor always called it a "Selection Meeting." Were you aware of that?

"Well, I have a pin that says it's the 'draft.' I didn't pay any attention to it, but I think our fans and our players and our coaches refer to it as the 'draft.' I think everybody involved in the NFL treats it that way."

How emotional was it on stage when you recognized the tragedy at Virginia Tech by inviting coach Frank Beamer to speak and having former Hokies Bruce Smith, Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall on hand?

"It was emotional because we're all looking at what happened on that campus with disbelief and try and understand why these kinds of things happen. And then you see the human spirit, you see the way the people have rallied.

"Spending some time with Coach Beamer in the last 24 hours, I understand a little bit more about how proud he is and how important it is to see that community come together. We need to rally behind that community."

Were you able to give some words of encouragement to Brady Quinn as he waited so long to be picked?

"I just spent a couple of minutes with him. And I met with all five of those players (on April 27), and I said, 'Listen, one of you is going to go last and it's going to be hard.' And it is hard. But they also have to remember that while it may seem like an eternity right now, it's really not. They need to get with the right team, in the right community, in the right system, and then go make a difference."

With your having put the issue of player conduct front and center in this league, do you have confidence that this draft will reflect your expectations of better player conduct going forward?

"I'm not trying to make an impact on a specific draft. I'm trying to make an impact on allowing players, coaches, teams, owners, commissioner, everybody involved with the NFL, understand that we all make choices in life. We also make mistakes. But we need to represent the NFL at a higher level and a higher standard than we have in the past. It's a simple message, and I want them to understand: You make choices; I hope you'll make good ones."

Can you put into perspective how incredibly large an event the draft has become?

Ask Vic! Have a question for Vic on anything NFL related? Don't just sit there -- send it to AskVic@nfl.com, and the best questions will be answered throughout the season right here on NFL.com! "This is my 25th draft. I remember going in a hotel where nobody really paid attention other than the teams themselves.

"To some extent, I credit the growth to ESPN, but it's consistent with what we are trying to do, which is bring more football to more fans and allow them to get closer. I also think it's the intrigue of seeing young kids who have worked so hard in college, coming out and seeing their dreams fulfilled, to see what it's like to build an NFL team, what it takes to evaluate that, and how they're going to fit in and make a projection.

"And then you see new technology, which you guys are doing right here with NFL.com. This is a great opportunity to be able to get our fans closer to the game."

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