A Virtual NFL Draft Might be the Distraction We All Need
Nothing familiar is operating the same as usual and it may very well be awhile before we can get back to what we expect.
Which is why holding the NFL Draft via Zoom...or some other Video Conferencing software is quite possibly a distraction from the reality we are all currently trapped in that we (Sports Fans) need.
As of the time I write this---the NFL does still plan on holding their annual end of April ritual albeit differently than in the past. They have to because of the Social Distancing rules in place. In most NFL towns, even the teams will have to participate remotely because their team facilities are closed the town or state in which they live are on some form of lockdown.
There is ONE aspect of this I have a big problem with: The NFL's insistence on holding the event in Las Vegas. Sure, they've eliminated the crowd aspect, but at the end of the day, league personnel have to travel to Vegas and interact with people they don't need to be interacting with to get a "Centralized Location" set up for the event.
There is no REAL reason they can't stay at home or hold it at the NFL Offices. I was going to add an exception in this sentence only to think for a second and realize there is no good excuse for packing everyone up and going back and forth to Nevada. None.
Sure...I know scouts, coaches, GM's and others are whining they can't possibly do a draft because it is...uh, different? The argument has for the most part centered on the lack of "In Person" evaluation. Which to be honest, is an excuse. We've already had the Draft Combine and a few have had pro-days.
Does it mean the experts will have to rely on video and video interviews? Yes they will. Is it the ideal way to do it? No. Can they make it work? I think they can, it's just getting all of the NFL Folks to get out of their belief they can't do something because they've never done it before. The NFL more than almost any other sport outside baseball has been resistant to change because they don't like changing the way they do things.
In a world where most are stuck at home, unable to go to work, unable to well---do much of anything outside staring at their TV's for hours on end, why not do a virtual Draft? I'm going to watch and I suspect a lot of Sports fans will too.
Why not watch? What else are you going to do? You can't go out to play golf, you can't go hike, you can't go shopping---why not watch?
I will qualify all of this by saying there are a lot of people criticizing the Shield for putting on the event during a Pandemic and I get it. Even Adam Schefter of ESPN who rarely, if every criticizes the league railed against this on co-worker Scott Van Pelt's show this week:
In one respect, Schefter is right...what's the point in holding the draft right now? Teams aren't going to be able to practice any time in the near future, getting rookies to learn a system will be restricted to online learning.
But at some point the games will resume. The NFL even more so than other sports will be back, they have a reserve fund and will be able to resume fully functioning rather quickly.
I get the argument we should be holding gatherings at this time...and you are right. The premise of the NFL going to Las Vegas to hold the draft is the only thing bothering me about the whole thing. It endangers their employees, it endangers the residents of Las Vegas and it endangers the TV Crews who will have to set up shop to broadcast the event.
But there ARE options. Why can't this be done at the NFL Offices? Why can't the draft be held virtually with people in the league offices keeping track of it? The logistics would be much simpler than setting up shop in Vegas and much, much safer.
I hope the league caves in and considers this before finalizing everything. I'd LOVE to see them hold the draft and give me something other than "The Tiger King" and other endless streaming programming on Netflix. Pretty much anything would be more entertaining than endless reruns on Network TV.
It would give ESPN and the NFL Network reason to function right now. They both are now either (a) talking non-stop draft or (b) running out of live programming options.
Let's make the draft happen NFL, it's your duty to your fans. Quite honestly, I think it would be kind of fun to see 32-squares set-up on a Zoom screen and broadcast to us all. It may not be a perfect way to do it but we currently exist in non-perfect times.
Do what you can, get creative and do something to make people happy. Lord knows, we could all use a little of that right now.....