N.F.L. Draft Had Some Style Winners


“People want to sit around with the family and watch football,” Roger Goodell, the National Football League commissioner, said Thursday night before the 2024 N.F.L. draft. It is also increasingly the case that people want to sit around, alone or in groups, watching phenomenal athletes and physical specimens doing nothing more physically taxing than sauntering down a red carpet.

And, while the N.F.L. has a long way to go before it can stage a real challenge to the style dominance of N.B.A. tunnel-walk kings like Jerami Grant, Jarred Vanderbilt or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, it was clear that this year’s football draft prospects had done some fashion homework.

Take the No. 1 draft pick, Caleb Williams, the U.S.C. quarterback chosen — to the surprise of almost no one — by the Chicago Bears. Mr. Williams dressed for his big night in a sophisticated dark blue, double-breasted zippered suit by Chrome Hearts, worn over a darker blue T-shirt. It was a sleek tone-on-tone look that was only improved when he donned his new team’s logo snapback.

Or consider the L.S.U. star Jayden Daniels, who wore a handsome dove-gray single-breasted suit, tieless, as he was chosen by the Washington Commanders. A player known for his ever-changing hairstyles, Mr. Daniels accessorized his look, impromptu, with a Commanders team cap perched atop his current coiffure, a head full of ropy twists.

Maybe the New England Patriots’ choice Drake Maye, wearing a single-breasted suit with a skinny tie, all in pale gray, was not flaunting a look you’ll ever see on the social media entity LeagueFits, where, as its author says, men who “used to go to war now post fit checks before prime time games.” But he made a strong case for the value of playing conservatively and sticking to your own sartorial lane.

For this critic’s money, some of the more compelling looks of this evening in Detroit belonged to Malik Nabers, the L.S.U. wide receiver who touchingly had his double-breasted suit lined with photo prints of “all the legends, all the people that made Malik what Malik is”; Marvin Harrison Jr., the Ohio State wide receiver who was the fourth pick and wore a jeweled pendant with a gridiron image of his dad, Marvin Harrison (19th pick in 1996), and who was additionally clad in sunglasses, a black suit, dark shirt and tie; and, finally, Taliese Fuaga, the 334-pound Samoan-American Oregon State offensive lineman, who wore a print shirt and floral lei.

One knock on the N.B.A. tunnel-walk stars is that they seldom look as though they are wearing clothes they’d have chosen without the guidance of agents and stylists or were not paid to wear. In that sense, N.F.L. draft night remained an oddly innocent affair.

Of course, there were inevitably abundant commercial tie-ins underpinning this display of fanfare, a hype night for a multibillion-dollar business. Still, compared with most widely cross-platform events these days, and considered in the light of an attention economy that often guarantees celebrities — newly minted or otherwise — a fortune for each post, the draft seemed almost quaint. A good percentage of the draft picks did not even trek to Detroit to be nominated. Like the rest of us, they watched the hoopla from home.



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