In an unsurprising but still somewhat surreal announcement, the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has forced the NFL to hold this month’s draft in a virtual environment.
League commissioner Roger Goodell relayed the news to teams in a memo sent out on Monday.
“We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the competition committee and CEC,” Goodell said, “and this will confirm that clubs will conduct their draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.”
“Clubs have been advised to 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,” the memo continued.
General managers weren’t too keen on keeping the draft on the April 23-25 dates regardless of location of setting, but the owners pushed through with it and this is what we’ll get instead. The league intends to adhere to current physical distancing guidelines, as well as avoiding gatherings of more than ten people.
Longtime NFL fans may remember that the draft didn’t used to be a made-for-TV spectacle. There were no gigantic crowds cheering or booing every draft day decision, and everything was done in a manner that’s anti-entertainment.
According to Peter King, the broadcast plans will involve a joint ESPN/NFL Network production, along with a COVID-19 telethon element.
Now... who’s ready for John Schneider to fleece Bill O’Brien from his own home?