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Roger Goodell: NFL Draft will go on as scheduled

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After a meeting with an ownership committee on Thursday, the NFL commissioner has made it clear the draft will not be delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Super Bowl Press Conference Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

In a memo sent to the Kansas City Chiefs (and the rest of the NFL’s teams) on Thursday evening, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear: the NFL Draft will be conducted as scheduled — if not exactly as planned — from April 23 to April 25.

The NFL had originally planned to hold the draft in Las Vegas. As has been the case in recent seasons, it was going to be conducted and televised with a live audience. Las Vegas was also planning numerous public events to surround the draft. But on March 16, the public portions of the draft were cancelled in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the NFL has already ordered teams to shut down their team facilities and prohibited meetings between teams and draft prospects — which is making it more difficult than usual for teams to make evaluations of the players they are considering — league general managers have been pressuring the league to postpone the draft.

But after meeting with Commissioner’s Executive Committee (CEC) on Thursday, Goodell’s memo said the decision was “unanimous and unequivocal” that the draft would take place as scheduled.

“Apart from the CEC, I have personally discussed this matter with many other owners, club executives and coaches, and there is widespread support for the CEC’s conclusion,” it said. “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. 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.

”Because of the unique circumstances in our country today, the 2020 Draft will obviously need to be conducted in a different way. Already, we have cancelled all public events, we will not be bringing prospects and their families to the Draft, and the draft itself will be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions.”

The memo also said that teams wouldn’t be able base their draft operations inside of their own facilities.

“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.”

Finally, Goodell’s memo made it clear that teams are not free to publicly discuss any issues they have with the draft going on as scheduled.

“Clubs have already reached out to us to discuss particular issues, and we encourage clubs with questions or concerns to continue to raise them with me, members of the CEC, or our staff. The CEC was also clear, and I share the Committee’s view, that public discussion of issues relating to the draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.”

It’s important to know that the CEC is an ownership committee. So this is a message from team owners to their employees: Shut up about it. We’re moving forward.