This week, the NFL announced that its highly awaited Draft would continue as planned for April 23-25, but as a televised event behind closed doors. Public NFL Planned activities in Las Vegas, however, were cancelled.
A statement from the League 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.”
Player selection by the clubs will continue as planned for April 23-25, and the NFL is evaluating options for how the process will be implemented and will provide more detail as it becomes available.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said: “This decision reflects our foremost priority – the health and safety of all fans and citizens.”
“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 statement Goodell announced that following talks with NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and meetings between NFL and NFLPA medical staff, and advice from public health authorities focused on coronavirus (COVID-19), NFL clubs will postpone the start of their off-season programmes indefinitely.
Additionally, special protocols will be in place until further notice until the start of the new League Year. Off-Season team activities will not commence for teams with new head coaches on April 6, and for all other clubs on April 20. The stakeholders must meet and discuss the state of public health regularly to assess a reasonable start date for any off season team activities and any relevant issues as this situation evolves.
During the next few weeks, NFLPA Medical Director Dr. Thom Mayer and NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills will create a standard set of team procedures to enforce with respect to cleaning and maintenance facilities, storage of equipment, steps to classify players and personnel at high risk, and other protective measures.
NFL teams can not bring any free agent player to a club facility or other place to meet with club officials during the free agency period, which starts on March 18. In addition, team employees, including team medical professionals, can not travel to any place to meet or perform a free agent player’s medical review.
The NFL and NFLPA are establishing guidelines that will provide clubs with opportunities to review the medical history of a free agent player from his / her previous club(s) and arrange for a free agent player to have a medical evaluation in the player’s home town or nearby. Those measures are consistent with those for team communication with draught-eligible college players revealed last Friday.
DeMaurice Smith commented: “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.”