By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com
Late last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell publicly extinguished the idea of a delayed NFL Draft after the league’s GMs unanimously recommended a postponement. Goodell also made it known that anybody who questioned his decision publicly could face league punishment.
While no league front office members came forward with criticism over the weekend, that didn’t stop it from being discussed behind closed doors. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King shared messages from multiple sources around the league in his Monday morning column.
I think it’s unlikely he will try to reach out to salve the wounds right now, but Roger Goodell has to know how angry football team personnel are with him right now. Some are unhappy that the draft will go forward on April 23-25, figuring all the restrictions on scouting will make it harder for all teams to get up to speed on players. Some are unhappy that, in Goodell’s words, “Public discussion of issues relating [sic] to the draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.” Really? “Why on earth would you ever threaten an opinion?” texted one prominent NFL person. Another: “Whatever happened to freedom of speech?” I agree. Just because a GM like Mickey Loomis says he thinks the draft should be delayed, and more anonymous influencers have the same opinion, why threaten them with discipline? Seems a little provocative to me.
“Whatever happened to freedom of speech?” is not exactly a line you expect to hear from an NFL general manager, but these are the times we are in.
Keep in mind the NFL has already indefinitely postposed offseason workouts and OTAs due to COVID-19. There should no rush to get players drafted and into team’s systems, since there are no immediate team activities on the horizon.
With just about a month to go until the night of the first round, there still is time for GMs and other front office staff to exert pressure on Goodell, even if they have to do it behind closed doors. The question is, will Goodell give? He hasn’t exactly been flexible in the past.