With the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL Draft is moving to a completely virtual format.
While uncertainties regarding logistics remain, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is confident that the draft will go on without any hiccups.
Goodell recognizes that for all teams, the NFL Draft is where they find their next Hall of Famers. The NFL Draft is an institutional part of the NFL’s league calendar and the commissioner is adamant that it happens. Goodell initially explored moving the NFL draft to a fanless experience in mid-March. That exploration turned into the decision to move the draft to an entirely virtual, online experience.
According to NFL Insiders at ESPN, the transition has not been exactly smooth.
I’m texting with multiple coaches and GM’s who are on this mock draft call and everybody is saying the same thing which is band width is a problem. There are many communication issues.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) April 20, 2020
In the NFL’s initial mock draft for teams to practice the new draft environment, the Bengals struggled to submit their first-overall pick due to bandwidth issues. Even still, Goodell is confident things will run smoothly in the real draft on Thursday, April 23. According to the commissioner, he’ll be announcing the picks from the basement of his home.
The NFL also plans to honor and fundraise for first responders during the draft. According to Goodell, the new virtual experience offers a new view of the draft experience while fighting for a good cause.
Plans for the regular season
Coronavirus does not end after the NFL Draft. The commissioner knows this too. According to Goodell, the NFL is having discussions about playing games with no fans.
The NFL earns millions of dollars in ticket sales, but much more in television deals. Regardless of the financial impact on the league, the commissioner says they are prioritizing safety above all. According to Goodell, while the league is adapting quickly, the players and NFL staff will be priority number one.
According to Goodell, the league has been in constant communication with the CDC, public health officials to ensure that they’re up to date on the current safety standards. Goodell says that the league is not asking for anyone to make any exceptions for them.