The NFL will have computer cameras trained on all 32 head coaches and general managers during next week’s draft. Their reaction shots will make for good TV, sure, but they also will provide evidence that everyone is working from home, as the league dictates.
Beyond health and safety concerns in the wake of the coronavirus, the No. 2 concern among teams has been that the NFL ensures “uniformity across the league,” Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and league events, said on a phone call Thursday night with Chicago reporters. Teams want to make sure others are following the rules, which states officials must work from their own homes.
The league will hold a practice remote draft on Monday to hopefully work out any kinks.
O’Reilly said the NFL is confident in its cyber-security team. Protecting the communication networks among team officials and between clubs will be “a hugely importantly point.”
Otherwise, the NFL will try to make the three-day draft, which starts Thursday, look familiar. General managers will convey their selections to Ken Fiore, the league’s vice president of player personnel, via a conference call, Microsoft Teams message or email — or all three. Once Fiore confirms the pick, commissioner Roger Goodell will read it from his basement.
That’s similar to how regular drafts work, O’Reilly said. The traditional procedure of a phone ringing at a team’s table and the pick being hand-written on a card “is kinda part of the show,” he said, and not the actual way the league is alerted of each selection.
Players sitting at home should look the same, too. New Era has sent 32 caps — one for each team — to the 58 top prospects the league chose to put on camera, O’Reilly said. Goodell will have 32 jerseys in his basement.
O’Reilly said the draft, which will raise money for coronavirus charities, will “provide fans with a respite and a bit of an escape.” He said doing it virtually will send the right message to the rest of the country, which is also stuck at home.
“Probably just as importantly is the focus on role-modeling the right behavior,” he said, “and that right behavior is a fully virtual, remote draft.”