The NFL Draft, in a highly altered and very much scaled down form, might be the only sporting event that survives the next couple months. If they can pull it off, and it is very much doable, you could see the MLB, NBA and NHL follow suit. It won’t be actual sports, but hey, it will be something close. And it will give you some sports to bet on too, as NFL betting sites have already been taking action on who the first overall pick would be for quite some time already.
On Monday morning, the National Football League announced that the draft will go on, on the planned date, but all fan events are cancelled. So for now, it’s on, but who knows what could change between now and the end of April. Personally, I think it would be really cool if they went all retro/back to their roots- just a bunch of old dudes in a conference center ball room picking names off of a board.
The full press release, like most public statements, was lacking in the details. What will probably happen with this event is a television studio show akin to Selection Sunday or the College Football Playoff Rankings. Obviously, there will be no audience, nor close-up interviews or meet-and-greets with people shaking hands.
You can do it, with good social distancing, if you put thought into it and the league still has six weeks to figure it out. After all, day three of the NFL Draft (for our latest mock go to this link), for the past few years, has had no actual location. If you actually watch it, on that Saturday, you’ll notice all the picks being announced from remote locations. You can do that for the whole thing.
Sorry, no small boats shuttling picks to a floating stage set up in the Bellagio fountains.
As you can see from the pic above, this is how the NFL Draft looked way back in the day (this is the 1964 edition), and how it could, but almost certainly won’t, look again. They won’t go that route, and most likely won’t do a conference call either. SNY Jets Blog explains why:
Too much has changed since that first TV draft, on ESPN in 1980, including the intensity of media coverage, the massive fan interest, and the crazy money involved.
So if the draft were altered, it likely would remain a made-for-TV event for both ESPN and the NFL Network, but with limited in-person attendance. One agent suggested it could take place in a theater in New York, so league officials wouldn’t have to travel.
At this point, we’ll take anything we can get- the NFL Draft in any form.
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.