National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell believes that this week’s NFL Draft will offer some hope to sports fans in the United States amid the bleak financial impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The April 23-25 draft was originally scheduled to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada but it was moved due to the ongoing health crisis. It will now originate from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, where staff will “adhere to proper social distancing guidelines and local workplace rules.”
A number of hosts and commentators will work from the ESPN studios, while others will contribute from their homes. Goodell, notably, will reveal the selections of the first round from his home in Westchester County, New York.
“People look to us for optimism,” Goodell said on ESPN program Get Up. “They look to us for bringing communities together. I think the draft is a great example of that, with restoring hope. It’s hope for our fans. It’s hope for our teams. It’s hope for our players, for these young men who are about to start their careers as prospects and players in the NFL.
“That’s what this is all about, and I think we need those diversions. I think we need that focus on the future and that way to bring communities together. I think we’ll be able to do that for the next three days, and then we’ll focus on the future immediately after that,” Goodell said.
ESPN and the NFL Network will produce a broadcast that will air on both networks over all three days. ABC will air a separate draft broadcast on April 23 and 24 before simulcasting the ESPN/NFL Network feed on April 25. The 2020 NFL Draft will also be streamed live across a number of NFL and ESPN digital and social media properties.
The Walt Disney Co. said it has garnered its most diverse array of advertisers ever in its history airing the annual event, signing more than 100 brands. The resulting influx has led to a double-digit percentage increase in advertising revenue, with key categories including computers, insurance, gardening, and media.
Goodell reiterated that the NFL is preparing for the season to start on time in September but said that alternative arrangements are being made.
“You have to be willing to adapt,” he said. “You have to be willing to be prepared to adapt. You can’t expect or anticipate every move, but your job is to try to be as prepared as possible. So we do that. We’ll continue to do that. But we will make sure we’re putting our players in a safe position, our coaches, our team personnel, everybody, our partners. And we’ll make sure that those are the issues that we’ll put first. And ultimately, it’ll probably come down to a league and an owners’ decision.”