COVID-19 is changing the sports world in a major way. NFL teams reportedly bracing to do draft from home, alone.
The draft is 18 days away, and ESPN reported on Saturday that “multiple” teams are preparing to conduct the draft exclusively from home. Those that aren’t should be.
As explained the other day, the April 2 memo sent to all NFL franchises makes it clear that teams will be permitted to draft from their facilities or remotely, one or the other, and that the league currently is determining which approach will be more feasible. Obviously, remote, from-home drafting is the only thing that will be feasible, given the clear “stay at home” orders in place in nearly every state where the NFL does business. (Of the states that host NFL teams, only Missouri hasn’t issued a “stay at home” order.)
The April 2 memo likely represented a face-saver for the NFL, since only two days earlier the league had said teams would be allowed to gather in off-site “small war rooms” of up to 10, without acknowledging the obvious conflict between that approach and the various “stay at home” orders. By Thursday of last week, someone apparently realized that the “stay at home” orders could be an issue — especially if the league’s position will continue to be that the same rules must apply to all teams. If only one state says to the league, “Sorry, but you’re not getting a dispensation to have a meeting in the office because you’re no different than any other business that has to conduct its meetings from home,” then everyone will be drafting from home.
And even if there’s a way the league can somehow thread the needle in every state except Missouri between now and April 23, the smart move is to assume that it won’t happen, and to prepare for conducting the draft from home.