Redskins

Redskins

The 2020 NFL Draft will go on as scheduled next week, just not as planned.    

The original on-site location in Las Vegas has been shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the NFL announced that its future players will now hear their name called from Roger Goodell’s basement.   

Strange times. It’s far from ideal, but this does allow business to continue. Teams will be allowed to communicate virtually with their player starting on April 20 and then the draft will at least allow them to continue building their roster. 

It’s something the NFL and the NFL Players Association have been working on closely together on. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith says it’s an adjustment for all sides. 

“I think it was a smart decision not to have the draft occur in the normal scenario where you have large crowds and certainly a number of athletes there,” Smith said.  

Countless conversations have been held on how to carry out the league year. It’s been difficult to coordinate, but staying on time just made sense. Players want to know where they’re headed even if that means they won’t head to their new city until an undetermined time.  

The draft itself isn’t the only event scheduled for next week. Thursday begins the selections, but there would typically be days of meetings with draftees before then with  

“Rookie premiere for us starts on Monday,” Smith said. “We would generally have all of the folks who were going to be there for the draft for three days getting them ready - not only for the draft but introducing them to the business of football.” 

 

Without meeting in person, it’s now about how to make sure players are prepared remotely. That includes numerous virtual meetings and touching base with player agents to make sure the NFLPA is meeting players’ needs.  

The draft is about hard work paying off and dreams coming true. While that still holds, it has also always long been about expressing individual style. Players always walk the red carpet wearing their game-day best.  

It’s yet to be seen how COVID-19 will impact the overall look from ones’ living rooms, but the lasting image will not feature Goodell and the players on stage. Rather friends and family celebrations will be at the center for even the very best players taken.  

Draft night has become bigger than simply picking the class of 2020 rookies, though. The NFL announced it will host a three day “Draft-A-Thon” that will pay tribute to the healthcare workers and first responders who have done so much heroic work during the pandemic. Six national non-profits will be supported for their work in COVID-19 relief efforts. 

Many current players will have roles on draft night, too, and that makes Smith excited and proud. 

“I just love the fact that for virtually all of our players, they’re a part of the community that they live in, a part of the community that they grew up in,” Smith said. “This is when you truly see the best out of people.” 

Football is a team sport. And in these days of uncertainty and distress, the 2020 draft becomes a time where the individual night to shine morphs into a way to help push us toward the biggest win of all against the virus and helps those impacted most.  

“I’m always going to be inspired by the people who have chosen to be selfless instead of selfish,” Smith said. “They are all working to make sure their community is better off as we all fight through this.” 

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