War rooms for the 2020 NFL Draft will now officially be living rooms, basements and home offices across the country.
General managers, meet fantasy football.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday in a memo to teams that the draft will be “fully virtual,” with GMs, coaches and club personnel all in separate locations because of the coronavirus outbreak. League and club facilities will remain closed indefinitely, Goodell wrote.
The league closed all team facilities for at least two weeks on March 26. Pre-draft visits have all been taking place through video chats and the technology will continue to be vital during the draft with decision-makers all confined to their respective homes.
“[A]fter consulting with medical advisors, we cannot identify an alternative that is preferable from a medical or public health perspective, given the varying needs of clubs, the need properly to screen participants, and the unique risk factors that individual club employees may face,” Goodell wrote.
The draft, set for April 23-25, was originally set to be held in Las Vegas but has since been overhauled because of the pandemic. It will reportedly be televised from a remote studio with teams announcing their picks from separate locations.
Many teams had already been preparing for a virtual draft. The Giants and Jets, with assists from their IT departments, have set up virtual draft boards and are conducting their meetings on video conferences.
“There’s definitely a certain amount of [discomfort] when you’re moving from your office to your home office with the distractions that can take place,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said last week. “Everyone has had to go through that. I think everyone is doing a great job. I think we’ve been able to over-communicate. We’ve been able to stay on the same page.”
The Saints had moved their draft headquarters into a local brewery, though it appears that will not be allowed for the draft itself under the NFL’s new mandate.
The draft going on as scheduled has been a point of contention for some as the country tries to battle COVID-19 with the death toll rising daily. But Goodell warned teams in a recent memo that “public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.”
Instead, Goodell said the draft could “serve a very positive purpose” for teams, fans and the country.at a time when the other three major sports leagues have all suspended their seasons