Whether you’re a fan, general manager, or prospect, the NFL draft is firmly circled on everyone’s calendar. This year’s event, however, could look a bit different. Beyond some location-specific quirks, the spread of the coronavirus has brought the sports world to a grinding halt; for all we know, the draft might not even take place. Las Vegas Raiders owner, Mark Davis, isn’t concerned, though.
While no one can be sure what the future holds, Davis has faith in the NFL. He believes that the league will ultimately “make the correct decision,” even if that means canceling the vent all together.
The coronavirus’ effect on the sports world
Despite everyone’s desire to keep things as normal as possible, the coronavirus has started affecting the sports world. In Europe, some soccer matches have been moved behind closed doors and played without fans; others have been postponed altogether. Korea and Japan’s respective baseball seasons have also been delayed.
Slowly, North American sports have started to follow suit. The NBA recommends that players limit contact with fans, and the Golden State Warriors were prepared to play a game in an empty arena, but those are all moot points now. On Wednesday night, the league suspended all on-court action indefinitely, after a player tested positive for COVID-19.
On the college front, the NCAA Tournament will be held without fans in the building; although some acted more quickly than others, all of the major conferences suspended their tournaments. While similar statements from around the sports world continue to trickle in, mass cancelations have already become inevitable.
Al Davis believes the NFL will make the right decision about their draft
Since the NFL is in the midst of its offseason, the league hasn’t been dramatically affected by the coronavirus as of yet. That could change sooner rather than later, though. The league’s annual entry draft is slated to take place at the end of April.
It goes without saying that assembling league personnel, fans, and prospects at one massive event, complete with high fives, handshakes, and hugs, isn’t ideal during pandemic. Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis, however, isn’t concerned. While he acknowledges that the event could be different this year, he trusts in the NFL to keep everyone safe.
“The league office, the players association, and the city and the state are working together,” Davis told Michael Gehlken of The Dallas Morning News. “They’re making a measured decision. Health and safety will always be number one.”
“They’ll make the correct decision,” Davis continued. “They won’t put anyone in jeopardy over it.”
How will the 2020 NFL draft unfold?
According to Gehlken, the NFL is currently taking stock of the situation; while there is no formal plan for alterations to the draft, “there is a real chance that attendance would be scaled back.”
Thankfully, it would be theoretically easier to make the NFL draft a fully remote occasion than other events. While a game can’t take place without the teams and officials in the same location, plenty of the work on draft day takes place behind the scenes; although teams send their brass to the floor, they have a war room and big board at their headquarters.
While the broadcast would surely be a bit different, we could still see Roger Goodell announcing the picks, interviews with prospects, and all the standard trappings, albeit with everyone in their own separate locations.
Given the timeframe, the NFL doesn’t need to rush into a decision. Hopefully, they make the right one; disappointing the fans and prospects is a small price to pay in order to protect everyone’s health.