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NFL Draft Virtual Certainty Amid Coronavirus

Everyone wants their sports back.  Being left without football, baseball or any of the other options is like being lost in the desert without water.  Sports fans feel lost, helpless and unsure what to do with their free time.  While the ramifications the coronavirus has had on the sports world are devastating, things will – eventually – return to normal.

There is a lot of talk about whether or not the NFL will still hold its season as scheduled, and one thing is perfectly clear – the fate of the upcoming season is still completely up in the air.

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The NFL Draft Show Must Virtually Go On

The NFL Draft, coming April 26-28, is going forward.  Teams are going to be wheeling and dealing to try to select the best fit for their rosters, but will do so from almost a completely virtual world.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a reminder today, telling all 32 teams in the league to adhere to established safe-distancing practices.

Some teams had already come up with alternative locations for their draft war rooms and are now working on the logistics of how to tune into an entirely new setup for participating in the event.

Goodell added in his memo, “Clubs have been advised to prepare to conduct the 2020 Draft entirely outside of their facilities and in a fully virtual format, with club personnel in separate locations and able to communicate with one another and Draft headquarters by phone or internet.  We have reviewed this matter in the past few days with both the Competition Committee and CEC, and this will confirm that Clubs will conduct their Draft operations remotely, with club personnel separately located in their homes.”

This means that the New Orleans Saints won’t be able to hold its war room at the Dixie Brewery Company as it initially planned.  Head coach Sean Payton, who only recently recovered from the coronavirus, relented and canceled his plans in order to keep the league happy, as well as to protect the citizens of New Orleans.

Will The League Start On Time?

This past weekend, President Trump spent time talking to the commissioners of all major sports leagues.  He is trying to convince them to not delay the action any more than is absolutely necessary, but was especially interested in making sure the NFL season can keep its schedule.  It’s not entirely out of the question, provided health officials are able to effectively bring COVID-19 under control.

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At this point, though, that’s a big question and one without a clear answer.  The number of coronavirus patients has continued to rise, but, according to the science community, there are now vaccines ready for delivery and new tests that can more promptly determine whether or not someone is infected.  The sooner these can get distributed, the sooner the NFL can realistically explore whether or not it will be able to move forward with a September launch.

NFL Docs Aren’t Optimistic

As much as Trump, and the rest of the world, would like to see sports make their return, it’s more complicated than just saying a few magic words and making things right with the world.  Football players would love to be on the field – it’s what they live for.  However, ensuring everyone is safe and healthy is going to take priority.

The NFL’s Chief Medical Officer, Allen Stills, isn’t totally confident that a September start is realistic, and recently stated, “As long as we’re still in a place where when a single individual tests positive for the virus that you have to quarantine every single person who was in contact with them in any shape, form or fashion, then I don’t think you can begin to think about reopening a team sport.”

It’s too soon to rule out an NFL season beginning in September, but it’s also too soon to expect the action to begin on time.  No one knows at this point, not even the health experts, what the coronavirus is going to do.  However, it would certainly be awesome if football could get underway in just a few more months.

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Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

5 Comments

5 Comments

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