'Sweet Caroline' Disrupts Late First Round NFL Draft Pick on Thursday

The Tennessee Titans had already submitted their first-round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday, but something kept holding it up—the crowd in Cleveland singing a song. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell even looked like he delayed announcing the top pick while the crowd swooned.

Fans of all NFL colors, from the Kansas City Chiefs to the New York Jets, seemed to be locked in arms and singing Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline at the top of their lungs.

Even the ESPN announcers said, "You don't interrupt this song."

Cleveland Browns
A Cleveland Browns fan sits onstage during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Goodell eventually approached the microphone to announce the pick, met by a chorus of boos. The commissioner went on to say the Titans had selected Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, who easily could have been selected earlier if not for a sequential chain of events.

Just two picks later, the loudest "boo" of the night came for the announcement of the first pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the long-time arch-nemesis of the hometown Cleveland Browns. The Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick. Harris became the sixth player from one college or university to be selected in the first round of one NFL Draft since the Miami Hurricanes did it in 2004.

This marks the first time since 2019 that the NFL Draft has been held in front of fans, teams and prospects. In 2020, the draft was held virtually, with Goodell making the announcements from his basement.

The stage was setup Thursday night so that there was music blaring for the crowd to enjoy between each team's 10-minute allotment for a draft pick. When Sweet Caroline began piping through the speakers, the entire crowd, it seemed, was jubilant late into the Cleveland night.

The pro-Browns crowd, who booed the Steelers pick, was much more enthusiastic two picks later when the hometown team selected Northwestern cornerback Greg Newsome II for the 26th overall pick in the draft. It's the first time in history that two Northwestern players were selected in the first round. The other was offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, who was picked 13th overall by the Los Angeles Chargers.

Some other first-round news included:

  • It was reported Thursday night that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers could be traded to the Denver Broncos. This came on the same day there were reports that Rodgers no longer wanted to be in Green Bay.
  • Thursday's first round was the first time since 1999 that the first three drafts were used on quarterbacks: Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb and Akili Smith.
  • The Dallas Cowboys traded their 10th pick to NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles, who selected 2020 Heisman Trophy receiver DeVonta Smith from Alabama. The Cowboys received the Eagles' 12th pick in the first round and a third round pick this year.
  • The Chicago Bears traded up from the 20th spot to take the 11th pick from the New York Giants. The Bears selected former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
  • The New York Jets traded up to take the Minnesota Vikings' No. 14 pick.
  • Alabama QB Mac Jones was selected by New England, making him the first quarterback that Bill Belichick has ever drafted in the first round.
  • Northwestern had two, first-round picks for the first time in history.