The NFL has confirmed this week that its hotly anticipated Draft will go ahead as scheduled on April 23 to 25, but as a televised event taking place behind closed doors. Public NFL Draft events planned in Las Vegas, however, have been cancelled.
The league statement noted: “In consideration of current information related to COVID-19 and guidance from medical experts such as the CDC, and in coordination with public authorities in Nevada and the City of Las Vegas, the NFL will modify its plans for the 2020 NFL Draft.”
The clubs’ selection of players will proceed as scheduled April 23 to 25 and the NFL is exploring options for how the process will be conducted and will provide that information as it becomes available.
“This decision reflects our foremost priority – the health and safety of all fans and citizens,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”
In a separate announcement Goodell revealed that, following discussions with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and consultations between the medical teams for the NFL and NFLPA, and based on coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance from public health officials, NFL clubs will delay indefinitely the start of their off-season programs.
In addition, special procedures will be in place for the start of the new League Year until further notice. Off-Season team activities will not commence on April 6 for teams with new head coaches and April 20 for all other clubs. The parties will periodically meet and reassess the public health situation to determine an appropriate start date for any off season team activities and other related considerations as this situation develops.
Over the course of the next several weeks, NFLPA Medical Director Dr Thom Mayer and NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr Allen Sills will develop a standard set of protocols for clubs to implement regarding facility cleaning and maintenance, equipment preparation, steps to identify players and staff who may be at elevated risk, and other preventive measures.
During the free agency period, which begins on March 18, NFL clubs may not bring any free agent player to a club facility or other location to meet with club personnel. Further, club personnel, including members of the club medical staff, may not travel to any location to meet with or conduct a medical examination of a free agent player.
The NFL and NFLPA are developing protocols that will provide clubs with opportunities to review a free agent player’s medical records from his prior club(s) and to arrange for a free agent player to have a medical exam in the player’s home city or at another nearby location. These steps are consistent with those announced last Friday for club contact with draft-eligible college players.
DeMaurice Smith said: “It is our responsibility to work together and protect the health, safety and well being of everyone in our business. Nonetheless, public safety is paramount during this national emergency and we will continue to work with the NFL, medical experts and seek guidance from federal agencies to adjust our business practices accordingly.”