What I'm Hearing: The NFL Draft will still take place in late April but without fans or a public event. Mike Jones attempts to figure out what it exactly it can look like and if the top prospects will even be in attendance. USA TODAY
The NFL draft will go on, but with a much different look.
The league announced on Monday morning it will cancel all public events that had been scheduled in Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL draft to try to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The actual draft will proceed as scheduled on April 23-25, though the league said it “is exploring innovative options for how the process will be conducted.”
The selection process will be televised.
The NFL said it took in consideration guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as officials from Nevada and the City of Las Vegas in making this announcement.
"This decision reflects our foremost priority – the health and safety of all fans and citizens," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday in a statement. "While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl."
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In late January, the NFL worked with the City of Las Vegas to release renderings that showed initial plans for the draft festivities in Vegas. They included prospects arriving to the red carpet on the fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel by boat.
The renderings also showed a projection of the main stage of the draft, which will be held next to the Caesars Forum and the High Roller observation wheel next to the LINQ Hotel.
The CDC recommended Sunday night that all gatherings of 50 or more persons be postponed or canceled for at least the next eight weeks in order to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. As of Monday morning, there are more than 3,770 confirmed cases reported in the United States, with the death toll rising to 69.
As the virus continues to spread, the sporting world has shut down or postponed an overwhelming majority of events.
The NFL, however, is proceeding with the start of its new league year as scheduled, which is set to begin Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. The unofficial start of free agency begins Monday at noon ET, with the opening of a legal tampering window that allows free agents to enter negotiations with prospective teams.
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.