Ex-Vikings RB Ed Marinaro ‘didn’t set out to create a brouhaha’ in NFL draft appearance

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Football player turned actor Ed Marinaro had a role early in his film career on “The Gong Show Movie.” One might say that Marinaro on Friday got gonged.

Marinaro announced the Vikings’ second-round pick at the NFL draft in Las Vegas 50 years after his 1972 selection in the second round by Minnesota. For nearly three minutes on the stage, an apparent record for anybody announcing a draft pick, he pontificated about his career and cracked some jokes.

About 2 ½ minutes in, an NFL official came onto the stage and informed the former running back to read the pick. He then finally said that the Vikings were taking Clemson cornerback Andrew Booth Jr. with the No. 42 overall selection.

“It was probably the first time anybody ever got the hook giving a presentation,’’ Marinaro said with a laugh during a phone interview Sunday from his home in Charleston, S.C.

Throughout the remainder of the second day of the draft and during Saturday’s second day of the event, NFL Network host Rich Eisen and analyst Charles Davis regularly made cracks about Marinaro’s appearance. Davis said he was “polishing up his one-man” Vegas act.

Reaction on social media has been mixed. While some have considered what Marinaro did hilarious, others have ripped him for going on too long and for making it too much about himself.

“I certainly didn’t set out to create a brouhaha that it turned into,’’ said Marinaro, who played in the NFL from 1972-77, including 1972-75 with the Vikings, and went on to have a prominent role in the acclaimed television series “Hill Street Blues.” “It’s just kind of weird. Obviously, I’m aware of what a lot of people thought but a lot more people thought it was fun and entertaining.

“It wasn’t like it was a conscious effort to be kind of self indulging, if you will. I just thought it was fun. I just provided a little bit of entertainment, if you will.”

Marinaro said on stage to the massive crowd about how “finding a Vikings purple sport coat is not easy” to wear at the event. He looked back at being drafted in 1972 and said he now looks “pretty good for my age.” He cracked that the only team he “wanted to be drafted by less” was Green Bay, Minnesota’s longtime rival. But he later added that it was a “great experience” playing for the Vikings.

Marinaro brought up having played the role of college head coach Marty Daniels in the 2010-11 television series “Blue Mountain State,” and, referring to the team nickname, asked if “we have some Goat fans out there.”

Shortly thereafter, Ashton Ramsburg, the NFL’s senior manager of major events and team operations, came on stage and informed Marinaro to read the pick.

“I was sort of surprised,’’ Marinaro said. “I thought she was going to give me a Will Smith slap or something. But I got the hint.”

Marinaro said he hadn’t watched previous drafts when former NFL players make picks for their teams on the second day and he said he was in the green room not watching when the first nine selections were made Friday. He said he never was informed of any possible time limit.

“I said (to a draft representative), ‘What do we do? Should I say something fun,’ and she said, ‘That’d be good,’’’ Marinaro said. “So that’s kind of what I did. I got caught up in the moment when I got out there when the fans were screaming and it was a little overwhelming. I felt like the Pope up there with all those fans. I really didn’t think about the time. They didn’t say to me, ‘You’ve got 60 seconds.’

“I just went out there and tried to have a good time and bring some humor to the thing. For the most part, I think the fans enjoyed it. When (Ramsburg) came out and told me to read the card, I think they were booing at it.’’

Marinaro told the Pioneer Press last Monday that with his announcement he’d “figure out something to make it memorable.” And it indeed has become memorable.

Eisen and Davis made continued references about Marinaro on the air during the remainder of the seven-round draft. Before the Vikings’ next selection Friday, Eisen cracked, “I can only hope we see Ed Marinaro one more time. I felt like he left something on the table.’’

“It was entertaining as heck for us doing television,’’ Davis said Sunday in a phone interview. “I really wish he would turn it into a one-man show. I’d go see it tomorrow. … We were dying. I was laughing so hard but I’m sitting down doing television. If I’m the commissioner, I’m saying, ‘Let’s move this thing along.’’’

Marinaro said he hasn’t heard anything from the NFL or from the Vikings since his draft announcement. He said he was “flattered that the Vikings asked me to do it” and stressed how much he enjoyed his four years with the team.

Marinaro said he had received about 100 text messages by Sunday morning, and they were positive, coming from people he knows. He estimated 90 percent of comments on social media about his appearance have been positive, although that might be stretch.

Marinaro, who has about 8,000 followers on Twitter @edmarinaro, said he’s not that big on social media, but doesn’t deny he’s been a bit stung by some comments he has seen. And on Saturday, he wrote on Twitter about those complaining, “It was THREE minutes!. You wanna have me arrested! Come out of you’re basement. The sun is healing.”

“It’s just sort of funny they’re attacking me,’’ Marinaro said. “With all due respect, who are these people attacking me with what I’ve done in my life, my resume? You wonder who these people are, how they feel qualified. Somebody called me a D-list actor. I’m 72 years old and I’ve got people attacking me. It was like I committed a mortal sin or whatever to a lot of people who got real serious about this draft.”

Marinaro, though, figures things soon will blow over. Nevertheless, he isn’t counting on another invitation to the NFL draft.

“I guess I overdid the fun part,’’ he said. “I just got caught up in the spirit of the whole thing, the energy. I just wanted to kind of have a little fun but I’ll probably never get to do that again. They probably will never invite me back.”

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