The COVID-19 pandemic will not allow the NFL to conduct an in-person draft this year. Therefore, the league is going with a virtual format.
The NFL Draft is still set to occur from April 23-25 in spite of the tragic COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, it won’t be going through with its usual in-person format. Far from it actually, according to commissioner Roger Goodell’s latest memo to all clubs.
Goodell explains how team facilities around the NFL will be closed “indefinitely” and that organizations should “prepare to conduct the 2020 Draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell just informed clubs in a memo that club facilities will remain closed indefinitely and the league will conduct a “fully virtual” draft, with club personnel separately located in their homes. pic.twitter.com/28t2kNnLAI
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 6, 2020
This is obviously very large and significant news. But, it’s what the league needed to do in order to err on the side of caution. Holding any sort of public event has essentially become impossible unless it’s virtual, as social distancing is especially crucial.
This isn’t the only drastic change the NFL has made amid this strange, unique offseason. The league also decided to delay the start of offseason workout programs. Teams with new head coaches were to begin Monday, April 6, while every other team planned to start Monday, April 20.
But in spite of all these changes, there’s still some optimism that this lingering virus won’t affect the regular season. On a conference call with major league sports commissioners, President Trump expressed confidence that the regular season will still start on time. Week 1 is slated to begin on Thursday, Sept. 10.
It’s an extremely difficult time and these draft-related circumstances are very unfortunate, don’t get me wrong. Especially when you consider how this event was supposed to take place in Las Vegas with a boat that transported players to the stage. This was going to be a game-changing experience.
Nevertheless, the draft will still be something worth witnessing. Is Goodell still going to announce the picks live? How will news and TV outlets cover the event? There’s a multitude of questions surrounding these alterations, but the NFL will answer each one soon enough.