NFL Draft: Ten of the craziest moments in history

Eli Manning at the 2004 NFL Draft

From choosing the location, to teams getting prepared ahead of time, there is a lot of work that goes into making the NFL Draft what it is.

But just like anything in life, there will always be times when things do not go according to plan, and there will be times when things come up that we weren’t quite expecting.

When that does happen, especially at such a big event as the draft, it can provide us with some pretty iconic moments.

Here at GiveMeSport, we look into ten such events as we break down some of the stranger moments that have taken place at the draft over the years.

10. NFL Executive Don Weiss mispronounces Brett Favre’s name, 1991:

Getting someone’s name right, especially during as big a moment as the day they are welcomed into the NFL, should be one of the most basic courtesies offered to a draft prospect.

However, that wasn’t extended to Brett Favre when he was selected in the second round back in 1991 by the Atlanta Falcons:

Credit to Martin Caidin

It does seem somewhat fitting that the player with the most career interceptions should have his career, even if it was a Hall of Fame one, start with a mistake. With pronunciation guides available during modern drafts, hopefully this is something that won’t happen again. 

9. Drew Pearson and Pat McAfee roast Philadelphia and Tennesse when announcing picks, 2017 & 2019:

When the NFL started taking the Draft on the road away from Radio City Music Hall in New York, starting in 2015 with Chicago, it gave a lot of fans around the country a chance to get involved in the draft weekend experience in their home city.

However, it did also give a lot of former players, who tend to announce picks during the middle rounds to the live audience, the chance to get involved too, and not necessarily in a polite way. 

This was perhaps best demonstrated by former Dallas Cowboys receiver Pearson and Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee using their time to slam the cities of Philadelphia and Nashville (home to divisional rival Eagles and Titans respectively) on behalf of their former teams:

8. The Los Angeles Chargers didn’t have enough fans to attend the virtual draft party, 2020:

The 2020 NFL Draft was certainly one for the ages, as the pandemic forced a lot of the operations to be done remotely.

However, not wanting the fans to miss out on the festivities, a number of them from all 32 teams were invited to take part on a virtual screen in commissioner Roger Goodell’s living room. 

One small problem though, the Los Angeles Chargers, who have for some time had trouble when it comes to attendance at games, couldn’t even manage to get enough participants for that, resorting to filling the screen with logos:

Not exactly the best way to send a message to the rest of the league about your fanbase.

7. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers use a parrot to help announce a draft pick, 2018:

When all of the razzmatazz of the early rounds drifts away, a lot less attention is paid to those who are called on day three of the draft (which composes rounds 4-7).

As a result, it gives teams a little bit more leeway to be creative when it comes to their draft picks. For instance the Jacksonville Jaguars have turned to UK fans to announce their picks as part of their growing presence across the pond.

None though are perhaps as on brand, or indeed as fun, as when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their famous pirate ship inside Raymond James Stadium and the help of parrot Zsa Zsa to announce the drafting of Jordan Whitehead:

Credit to Vooxed

6. Danny Shelton breaks tradition and picks up Roger Goodell for a bear hug, 2015:

One of the more famous traditions in draft classes has become the commissioner hug that Roger Goodell hands out to those who cross the stage.

He’s the first person that they meet following their announcement, and it’s a nice welcoming way to be greeted into the league having finally achieved their goals.

However Shelton, a 6’2 345lb defensive lineman out of Washington, went one step further and picked him up in an enormous bear hug, lifting the commissioner clean off the ground as if he were an opposing quarterback:

5. Dontari Poe and Roger Goodell share a somewhat intimate moment together, 2012:

Whilst Shelton might have picked up the commish, at least he didn’t go as far down the line as Dontari Poe did when his name was called out by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Poe went one step further and, looking at some snapshots of the night, looked as if he was going in for a kiss with Goodell:

Which I suppose is one good way to keep on his good side and try to avoid being fined further down the line, perhaps James Harrison should have considered doing the same, it might have reduced the number of fines he recieved. 

Photo via CBS Sports

4. The Minnesota Vikings delay their pick, allowing two teams to jumbo above them, 2003:

With the season-ending in February and the draft not until April, you would imagine that is plenty of time for teams to work out who they are drafting.

But in the case of the Minnesota Vikings in 2003. The story goes that they were in negotiations with a number of other teams over a possible trade to get out of that spot to acquire more picks later on.

They reportedly agreed to a trade with Baltimore, but whilst the Vikings confirmed it with the league, the Ravens did not, allowing time to expire and the pick to move on.

Their delay allowed not only the Jacksonville Jaguars, but also the Carolina Panthers to make their picks, jumping the Vikings down to number 9 in the draft where they eventually selected defensive tackle Kevin Williams:

3. The Baltimore Ravens do the same thing, but this time the Vikings benefit, 2011:

You’d think that after what happened with Minnesota, that teams would have learned to get things in order in time.

But no. In 2011, the Baltimore Ravens and the Chicago Bears were also in negotiation for a trade. And in a case of intense kharma on the Ravens, they fell victim to another error.

Apparently, the teams had agreed to the trade, but this time whilst Baltimore confirmed it with the league, Chicago did not, time ran out and that allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to jump them. 

Thankfully it was only one team rather than two, but still not a great look for the Ravens, especially given their role in 2003.

2. Laremy Tunsil’s draft night video becomes the story of the night, 2016:

What is meant to be one of the best nights of a player’s life turned into a nightmare for Tunsil, the tackle from Ole Miss, who was expected by some outlets to go as high as number one in the draft. 

However on draft night, a video that emerged of him smoking from a bong surfaced, causing him to fall down the draft order, with reports coming out subsequently that a number of teams took him off their draft boards when they saw the video. 

He eventually was picked up by the Miami Dolphins at number 13, a respectable position in the grand scheme of things, but it still was a nightmare night for the offensive lineman:

1. Eli Manning and Philip Rivers change teams on draft night, 2004:

The 2004 NFL Draft class was noted for it’s array of quarterback talent, with not only Manning and Rivers present, but also Ben Roethlisberger, all of whom went on to have great NFL careers.

So the then-San Diego Chargers really did have the world as their oyster when it came to who they could have taken with the first pick. 

However, despite Manning’s father Archie, a former NFL quarterback himself, making it very clear beforehand that his son Eli would not play for the Chargers if selected, they did so anyway, leading to a very awkward situation in New York on draft night.

Things eventually worked out, with the Chargers and New York Giants eventually trading the rights for Rivers and Manning, sending Eli to the Big Apple and Rivers to Southern California, but it’s certainly arguably one of the more bizarre draft night events we have ever seen.

We’d like to say that we hope that this year’s draft goes off without any hitches, but in fairness, a little bit of drama to spice up the night might not be the worst thing that could happen.

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