NFL DOUBLES DOWN: APRIL DRAFT WILL GO ON AS SCHEDULED

By Parry Marshall

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last night reiterated that the April draft will be held as scheduled.

Goodell sent a memo to the teams after the owners’ labor negotiating committee, the Management Council Executive Committee reaffirmed earlier that the draft should occur April 23-25, without postponement.

The committee, headed by New York Giants co-owner John Mara, was “unanimous and unequivocal” that the draft should not be pushed back, Goodell wrote.

“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,” Goodell wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Post. “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.”

Goodell also wrote that “public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.” Goodell and the league office were unwavering in their belief that the draft should be held as scheduled, even after a committee of general managers recommended to the NFL this week that it should be postponed. The GMs were concerned about disruptions to teams’ preparations for the draft because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. They also were troubled by competitive imbalances based on the fact that some teams had closed their facilities and others had not.

The league addressed that imbalance Tuesday by ordering all teams’ facilities closed starting Wednesday.

The NFL moved ahead with free agency last week. The CEC had favored a postponement of free agency, a person familiar with the situation said at the time. But the league and the NFL Players Association did not agree to such a delay.

The league previously decided to cancel the live event in Las Vegas associated with the draft, making it a TV-only event. It’s possible that it will be staged from the Los Angeles studios of the league-owned NFL Network or from the NFL’s offices in New York.

“Because of the unique circumstances in our country today, the 2020 Draft will obviously need to be conducted in a different way,” Goodell wrote in Thursday’s memo. “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.”

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