NFL Closes All Team Facilities, Debates Draft Schedule | Athletic Business

NFL Closes All Team Facilities, Debates Draft Schedule

The NFL had some time to react to coronavirus, as the league was out of season when the outbreak began to cancel games across the sports world.

Now, the league is beginning to feel the weight of the pandemic. ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared a letter NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent to all 32 teams Tuesday informing them that, starting Wednesday, all club facilities would be closed until at least April 8.

”To ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time, it is appropriate to outline certain principles that will apply during the current period,” Goodell’s memo said, noting that previously some teams had been able to use their facilities while others were staying at home. “During this time, clubs are free to conduct all normal business operations, including signing players, evaluating draft-eligible prospects, selling tickets, and other activities to prepare for the 2020 season.”

The only employees that can use the facilities are those that are providing players with ongoing medical treatment, maintaining the security of the facility or working to ensure that remote work can be done.

The two-week timeframe ends about two weeks prior to the next item on the NFL’s agenda. The 85th annual event is scheduled for April 23-25. The draft was to be held in Las Vegas, although all public events surrounding the event have been canceled.

According to ESPN, the NFL office and league owners are planning to stick with that schedule, although a Tuesday meeting of a committee of the league’s general managers saw them vote to push the draft back.

“I think a lot of owners aren’t sold on keeping it on schedule,” a league source told ESPN. “Of course the power owners are calling the shots. Plus, add to the fact that April is going to be the toughest month with this virus. It’s really a poor look.”

ESPN reported that general managers are concerned that there won’t be time for player physicals, psychological testing, or other important aspects of the draft process.

“I’d be personally in favor of delaying the draft, so that we can get some of the work done that our scouts and our personnel people ordinarily do,” New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said on this week’s The Peter King Podcast.  “And then just the logistics of trying to conduct the draft, with not having access to your draft rooms and your offices, creates a lot of logistic problems.

“This is not a fantasy draft that you conduct out there with just a list of things on a piece of paper. There’s a lot of work that goes into it to prepare, and there’s a lot of work that is done during the draft. Listen, it’ll be very, very difficult to conduct that and do it in a way that you’re doing justice to the process.”

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