In a memorandum sent out from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to every franchise, the NFL draft will proceed on the scheduled date of April 23-25, 2020.
Commissioner Goodell sent out a memo to NFL teams tonight that the draft will go on April 23-25. pic.twitter.com/tYlHo3fKqC— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 26, 2020
It’s been a difficult decision for many in the sports world on how to conduct business during the coronavirus pandemic. While it was reported the NFL wished to push back the beginning of the league year, it was the NFLPA who wanted to still go forward with the start of free agency. Exactly what business teams can and cannot still conduct is constantly changing in these trying times.
While Roger Goodell made the statement the NFL’s Management Committee was unanimous that the draft should go forward, the NFL’s General Manager’s subcommittee saw things in the opposite direction.
Note: There are differing accounts of the vote today. Some sources say it was unanimous, and others say it was 6-1. Either way, the GMs strongly favor pushing the draft back.— Dianna (@diannaESPN) March 25, 2020
The concern of the General Managers is being able to adequately prepare for the 2020 NFL draft. With the cancellation of player pro days and the only meeting with players being done by teleconference, the most difficult thing of all may be teams not being able to enter their own facilities. Another issue is with different gathering restrictions being enforced differently depending on the state. The question remains if some teams will gain an advantage when it comes to conducting their business on draft night.
The stance taken by the NFL is as follows: “There is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today.” While it’s true that moving the date of the NFL draft will not guarantee the conditions could be any different, it could allow teams to feel more confident with their analysis of players. It would be difficult to argue more time to prepare would not be better for the teams. But the spectacle which has become the NFL draft is not just about the teams.
The memo continued to explain how the NFL draft could possibly impact more than just the NFL franchises. “I also believe that the Draft can serve as a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans, and a country at large, and many of you have agreed.”
Other than those who were making plans to attend the NFL draft, the majority of fans prefer the draft still be held when scheduled for their own enjoyment. As much as we want to see who our favorite teams are going to select, things just are not going to feel the same without the crowd or the players coming onto the stage and putting on their team hat.
One of the most concerning parts of the memo was the implied gag order on criticism about the NFL going forward with the draft when scheduled.
“The CEC was also clear, and I shared the Committee’s view, that public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.”
I can understand the NFL wanting to go forward with the draft when it was originally scheduled. I also understand that the draft is just one part of the NFL offseason and that adjusting things too much will affect much more as time rolls on. But everything is being affected at this time. With MLB missing their opening day and the NHL and NBA unsure how to handle things if they can’t resume play in order to have their postseasons, the NFL is doing all it can to not change any of their dates.
But have they gone too far this time? Yes, the draft can still go on and be fair for all teams, but are teams going to be fully prepared? Is it time for the NFL to realize that the global pandemic is going to affect their business as well?
It’s difficult to say if the NFL is making the correct call in keeping the draft when scheduled. But threatening to find any team critical of their decision may be the poorest decision of all.