The National Football League draft is set to commence on April 23rd, 2020. You read that right, amidst everything going on in the world right now, the NFL has decided to move forward with their draft on its scheduled date via Zoom. From a sports fan perspective, I appreciate this because it gives me something sports-related to watch that is new (I can only watch so many “classic” games on ESPN).
It goes without saying that we are in the midst of one of the wildest times in human history. Whether you choose to believe it or not, the year 2020 will be going down in history books for centuries to come. The NFL deciding to continue on with, as they called it, “business as usual,” is a wild move to me. I get it, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, wants the league calendar to be as normal as possible. But that isn’t happening, because training camps and off-season training would be taking place in less than a month and that for sure is not going to happen.
To me, it seems a little short-sighted that they are trying to just continue on like nothing is happening, but to their credit, they are trying to provide a sense of new entertainment for fans who have been stuck in their houses or apartments for the last month and a half. One thing to note on the league moving forward with this decision is that a majority of General Managers, not owners, objected to the idea of holding the draft on its original date.
How will this work? That is a question a lot of fans are asking, because it will be something we have never seen and most likely will never see again in our lifetime. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be interesting as all hell to watch though. From my understanding, since government regulations have shut down all team facilities, each member of each team’s front office will be working from home. This opens up the conversation that a lot of General Managers have been having towards moving the draft to Zoom – what about hackers?
I, for one, LOVE the idea of someone like Bill Belicheck hiring a kid out of college who knows how to hack into Zoom meetings to hack into other teams’ war rooms and gain insight on what they are thinking. If that situation plays out, it will give fans something to talk about for a long, long time. But, the NFL has agreed to allow one IT specialist in the home of the final decision-maker for the draft to ensure the logistics are working flawlessly. When the decision-maker for each team has made the final decision, they will pass along their decision to league officials, much like when they turn in their draft card at the live NFL draft. The NFL will be holding “dress rehearsals” with all 32 teams in the coming weeks to ensure that everything can run as smoothly as possible on night one of the draft.
I do feel bad for the prospects that are in the position of getting drafted, or as bad as I can feel for twenty-year-old kids who are about to make millions and millions of dollars. It’s the one day these players have dreamed about since they were kids, sharing it with all of their family and friends, walking across that stage and shaking Goodell’s hand, and now? Well, now they get to sit in their living room with five other people from their family (assuming they are following social distancing), hug it out with them, and then it’s over. Their moment is essentially ripped away from them and there is nothing they can do about it.
The NFL draft is going to be one of the things that really hits home and makes the quarantine feel even more real, simply because it is such a staple of American life, despite there being no draft parties, no packed bars running out of beer… Just fans watching on TV at home (tune in on April 23rd, 8 pm EST), with the people they live with currently.