NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to the league’s 32 teams on Thursday, confirming the draft will proceed as scheduled on April 23-25 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared a copy of the memo on Twitter.
Goodell wrote that the decision was made by the league’s Council Executive Committee, who agreed unanimously to keep the draft on the original April dates.
“Everyone recognizes that public health conditions are highly uncertain and there is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident the 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 draft was originally planned to be held in Las Vegas but the public events planned around that were scrapped earlier this month due to the new coronavirus. Goodell said in his memo Thursday that details about how the draft will be presented are still being worked out, but confirmed that it will still be televised.
Goodell also addressed the logistical concerns teams might have when it comes to meeting and planning for the draft while also practicing safe social distancing.
“Our staff is certainly mindful of the operational issues this presents, and our top priority is putting in place procedures that allow all clubs to operate on a level playing field so that the Draft is conducted in a way that is completely fair to all clubs,” Goodell wrote. “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 presented, and with sufficient technology resources to allow you to communicate internally, with other clubs, and with Draft headquarters.”
Unlike other leagues, the NFL has yet to lose games due to the spread of COVID-19, but the league is still being proactive by closing team facilities into April.
The NHL is the only league in North America that has announced its draft will be postponed. That event was originally scheduled for the end of June in Montreal and plans for a replacement have yet to be announced.