There are few NFL traditions quite like Roger Goodell getting booed whenever he takes the stage during the draft. Fans booing the league’s commissioner was even made a part of last year’s virtual event.
The draft is returning to a more traditional setting in 2021, however, which also means that Goodell getting booed live will make its glorious comeback as well — at least in part. Fans of the New England Patriots, after all, will have no reason to voice their displeasure with him early on during the college player selection event: Goodell will not announce the team’s first few picks this year.
How come? The NFL announced last week that special selectors have been invited, and the Patriots’ will announce the club’s selection during the first two days.
In Round 1, Don Cox will take the stage to make the announcement in place of Goodell. Cox, a third-generation U.S. Marine veteran, is the founder of USA4Vets: the New England-based program has been delivering 14-day food supplies to veterans and military families in need, with more than 5.6 million meals distributed in 10 different states since its inception. Additionally, more than 100 food pantries and homeless shelters have also received food donations.
Cox is one of four guest announcers in the first round that have been chosen by the league through its Draft-a-Thon fundraiser. The Dallas Cowboys’, Chicago Bears’ and Cleveland Browns’ picks will also feature special announcers to raise awareness for mental health, health disparities and the digital divide, respectively.
New England is currently scheduled to pick 15th overall.
On Day 2 of the draft, meanwhile, the Patriots’ selections will be made official by a team legend: former New England wide receiver Stanley Morgan will take the stage — following the footsteps of former franchise greats such as Kevin Faulk or Willie McGinest.
Morgan is among 32 current and former players to announce their clubs’ draft picks in the second and third rounds. The Patriots own two selections in those rounds: the 46th and 96th overall picks.
A member of the organization’s Hall of Fame and 50th anniversary team, Morgan entered the league as a first-round draft choice in 1977. Over the next 13 seasons he was named to four Pro Bowls and established himself as one of the best wide receivers in football. When he left New England to spend the final season of his career with the Indianapolis Colts, he held team records in catches (534) as well as receiving yards (10,352) and touchdowns (67).
To this day, no other pass catcher in Patriots history has gained more yards through the air than Morgan. The next players on the list are Rob Gronkowski (7,861) and Wes Welker (7,459).
Seven of the NFL’s guest announcers on Day 2 are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but Morgan is not yet among them.