Roger Goodell says NFL draft to go on as scheduled, reportedly warns teams against criticizing decision


NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to teams on Thursday announcing that the draft scheduled for April 23-25 will go on despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The memo notes that the draft “will obviously need to be conducted in a different way” and “be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions.”

That means any public events around the draft remain canceled and that prospects and their families will not be on site for a live draft.

Report: Goodell warns teams not to complain

In copy not available in the body of the memo, Goodell warned teams against criticizing the league’s decision and threatened those that do so publicly could face disciplinary action, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

‘The draft can serve a very positive purpose’

The memo confirms an ESPN report from Tuesday that the NFL intended to maintain the planned draft date despite objections from general managers around the league. Goodell cites unanimous support from the NFL Management Council Executive Committee on the decision to move forward.

“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,” Goodell wrote. “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.”

The NFL draft will go on a scheduled from April 23-25. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The NFL draft will go on a scheduled from April 23-25. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NFL draft studio show

The memo also appears to confirm a Los Angeles Times report that the league is moving the draft from its original planned Las Vegas locale to a TV studio.

As part of the league’s new Raiders foothold in Las Vegas, the draft was originally scheduled to be held on the Las Vegas strip with an elaborate stage set up in the pool housing the Bellagio fountain. With social distancing in action and Las Vegas casinos shut down during the pandemic, that plan was obviously scrapped.

Goodell advised teams to prepare to conduct their drafts away from their facilities in compliance with a league mandate that all team facilities be shut down during the pandemic.

“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,” Goodell wrote.

The news should be well received by those who have argued that the draft should go on as long as it’s conducted in compliance with social distancing guidelines. For a sports-starved nation of fans largely stuck at home, it will provide a welcome diversion.

Teams that disagreed publicly will do so at their own peril.

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