Although the continuing spread of coronavirus has already led to the cancellation of multiple sporting events around the world and NFL Draft., one event that's still currently scheduled to take place is the 2020
The NFL has announced that the league is still planning to hold the draft in Las Vegas, despite the ongoing spread of COVID-19, which is the technical name of this strain of coronavirus.
"Our plans remain in place," the league said in a statement. "The NFL continues to closely monitor coronavirus developments and has been in contact with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the NFL-NFLPA's medical experts at the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network (DICON). We will continue to monitor and share guidance as the situation warrants and as our experts recommend."
As of Wednesday, the disease has been labeled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Even if the spread of the disease continues, the NFL probably won't fully cancel the draft, and that's because it's the one event on the NFL calendar that can be held without people interacting in person. Although the league could end up canceling the portion of the draft open to the public, the rest of the event could easily be conducted through a video conference. As recently as 1994, the draft was conducted in a hotel conference room with no fans in attendance.
According to the NFL's former head of events, Frank Supovitz, one contingency plan for the league could be to just hold the draft without fans at NFL Network studios.
"I'd be planning for the contingency to conduct the draft at the NFL Network studio or the NFL offices," Supovitz recently told the Athletic. "The draft is, at its core, is an essential business meeting to select college-level players. Although it would be a disappointment to the thousands of fans planning to attend the festivities in Las Vegas, as a purely operational matter, it can definitely be conducted without fans. By doing it at the NFL Network, it can still be a media event. Or, it can be done at the office on Park Avenue and the results can be announced on television, or announced by the commissioner by a remote camera."
If worse comes to worst, the entire draft could be conducted by a video conference that includes all 32 teams. Basically, even if all the public draft events get canceled, there's almost a 100 percent chance that the player selection part of the draft will go on.
Raiders owner Mark Davis hasof all involved will be the top priority as the league looks to make a decision.
"They'll make the correct decision," Davis said. "They won't put anyone in jeopardy over it."
Although coronavirus may not be able to completely shut down the draft, it's already having an impact on one part of the event: The pre-draft process.
According to Pro Football Talk, some NFL teams are "considering pulling their scouts off the road," which means they won't be in place to attend the multiple Pro Days that are going on around the country. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones -- the Steelers and Eagles -- have altered the travel plans for multiple scouts. According to Yahoo Sports, the Saints have made the decision to pull their guys off the road, and based on the PFT report, it won't be surprising if there are more teams that follow suit.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora hascould have an effect on the NFL's annual league meeting, which is currently scheduled for March 29 through April 1 in Palm Beach, Fla. If the NFL decides that traveling to the meetings isn't in the best interest of everyone involved, one contingency plan would be to hold the meetings via teleconference.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already claimed 29 lives in the United States and nearly 4,400 lives overall around the world, according to Johns Hopkins. As of March 11, a total of 1,050 people have been diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. with four of those cases occurring in Nevada, where the draft is currently scheduled to be held.