By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
In case you were clinging to one last sliver of hope that the NFL would just postpone the 2020 draft amid the COVID-19 outbreak ... well just light it on fire and throw it in the trash. Roger Goodell is here to let you know that the show will go on. Coronavirus shmoronavirus.
The NFL commissioner sent a memo to all 32 teams on Monday, which you can read via the NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. But the pertinent sections are quoted below, highlighting Goodell's declaration that the NFL will conduct a "fully virtual" draft later this month. The 2020 NFL Draft will take place April 23-25 as originally scheduled, and it will simply look a lot different from the extravagant events that fans have been used to in recent years.
Because of these circumstances, 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. We have reviewed this matter in the past frw days with both the Competition Committee and CEC, and this will confirm that Clubs will conduct their Draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.
Our staff in Events, Football Operations, Information Technology and the Management Council will be in contact with each Club and remains fully available to anseer questions or assist in your preparations. Our understanding is that many clubs are already well advanced in preparing for a virtual Draft and we are confident that all clubs can take the necessary steps to make the 2020 Draft a successful event.
If you don't have to call off an event, why do it? This has been the NFL's logic the whole time. They didn't have to hold the draft in person. So they're moving forward with it and there's nothing that the virtue signaling types can do to stop it.
No, the question of whether OTAs or training camps will actually take place on time is far more dicey. Will the country be ready to allow NFL facilities to reopen by mid-May? It doesn't feel feasible at the moment, but it remains to be seen whether the U.S. starts flattening the curve with COVID-19 cases. The peak of deaths and cases is expected over the next 10-20 days.
Unfortunately, the NFL may well conduct the 2020 draft while that is going on. They'll continue to receive blowback. But this has been their idea all along. Maintain a normal offseason schedule as much as possible. So it's time to dive into draft prospects for the Patriots, because they're doing what Yahoo! and ESPN fantasy drafters have been doing for decades. The NFL Draft is happening.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].