NFL tells teams draft will go ahead

AFP
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has advised all 32 teams that the 2020 draft of new talent will go ahead as scheduled on April 23 despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has prompted the league to shutter team facilities (AFP Photo/Tim Bradbury)
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has advised all 32 teams that the 2020 draft of new talent will go ahead as scheduled on April 23 despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has prompted the league to shutter team facilities (AFP Photo/Tim Bradbury)

New York (AFP) - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell advised all 32 teams Thursday that the 2020 draft of new talent will go ahead as scheduled April 23-25.

An article posted on NFL.com cited a memo sent by Goodell to the teams saying that at a meeting of the commissioner's executive committee the decision was "unanimous and unequivocal" that the draft should take place despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The public events originally scheduled around the draft in Las Vegas, Nevada, had already been cancelled as health authorities banned large gatherings and urged social distancing protocols in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

"Apart from the CEC, I have personally discussed this matter with many other owners, club executives and coaches, and there is widespread support for the CEC's conclusion," Goodell said in the memo.

"Everyone recognizes that public health conditions are highly uncertain and 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.

"I also believe that the draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans, and the country at large, and many of you have agreed.

"Because of the unique circumstances in our country today, the 2020 Draft will obviously need to be conducted in a different way. Already, we have cancelled all public events, we will not be bringing prospects and their families to the draft, and the draft itself will be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions.

On Monday, all NFL-related physical exams were indefinitely stopped, therefore no free agents or draft prospects can be examined by a team's doctors until it is deemed the coronavirus crisis has passed.

On Tuesday Goodell announced that all 32 teams had been instructing to close their facilities -- something that some teams had already done.

Goodell noted in his memo Thursday that teams would have to adjust how they conduct draft-day operations with their facilities closed.

"Our top priority is putting in place procedures that allow all clubs to operate on a level playing field so that the draft is conducted in a way that is competitively fair to all clubs," he said.

"All clubs should now be doing the necessary planning to conduct draft operations in a location outside of your facility, with a limited number of people present, and with sufficient technology resources to allow you to communicate internally, with other clubs, and with draft headquarters."

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