With the Raiders officially setting up shop in Las Vegas this fall, the league was all set to kick things off in the city early and host the NFL draft there next month.
That plan, however, seems to be a thing of the past.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the league is planning to scrap it’s plan for a draft in Las Vegas in favor of an in-studio setting with cut-ins from team headquarters when they are ready to make a selection due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Planning for the Draft is a good example of how we need to think differently, embrace technology and collaborate,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a memo to league employees this week, via The Times. “We will also use the Draft to help support fans and those people impacted in our communities.
“While there have been changes to the way we work and some of our plans, we have an unwavering commitment to upholding the NFL’s legacy of unifying and lifting the spirit of America, and bringing out the best in our fans and in our communities around the world. You’ll hear more from us in the days and weeks ahead about how we intend to demonstrate that commitment well beyond our fields. And I hope you’ll share your ideas on how we can do that.”
The NFL announced on Monday that the draft would go forward as scheduled on April 23-25 despite the coronavirus outbreak, but that all public draft events in Las Vegas had been canceled. The league had planned to host the draft on the water in front of the Bellagio hotel and use boats to shuttle players to the stage where the iconic fountains sit.
Based on that announcement, it wasn’t clear whether the league still wanted to hold the draft in the city but do so without fans, draft prospects or in some other form. According to the Los Angeles Times, however, the event will no longer take place in the city at all.
It remains to be seen what the NFL will do [with draft prospects]. Because it’s not known what travel restrictions, if any, will be in place a month from now, the league is not in position to make a final decision on that protocol. What’s more, that likely would require that everyone involved with the production test negative for the coronavirus, and those tests are not currently readily available.
The NFL has yet to announce anything official.
Regardless of how it moves forward, however, one thing is perfectly clear: The draft will look very, very different this year.
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