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NFL Draft also will serve as fundraiser for charities battling spread of COVID-19

In this April 28, 2018, file photo,

 In this April 28, 2018, file photo, a man watches the NFL draft during a Raiders draft pick event at Nellis Air Force Base, in Las Vegas Credit: AP/John Locher

The NFL hopes its draft will serve as more than just a diversion from the coronavirus pandemic.

The league announced on Wednesday that the three-day event also will serve as a fundraiser to benefit six charities that are battling the spread of COVID-19 and helping millions in need. It is calling the effort the Draft-A-Thon. During the event from April 23-25, fans and other supporters can donate to one central fund, to later be disbursed among the six charities. 

The NFL said it will reveal more details on how the fundraising will work at some point this week. The league said it also will pay tribute to healthcare workers and first responders in a variety of ways during the draft.

"As we face this global health crisis together, we are filled with gratitude for the extraordinary work of first responders, healthcare workers and many others who are helping those in need," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "The Draft-A-Thon will deliver much-needed funding to many who are suffering as well as those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Collected funds will go to the American Red Cross, CDC Foundation’s All of Us: Combat Coronavirus Campaign, Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund, the Salvation Army and the United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.

Although the rest of the sports world has ground to a halt during the past few weeks, the NFL has continued on with much of its offseason business despite restrictions on logistics. It opened free agency in late March, and despite scrapping plans for the annual draft extravaganza and fan experiences that were to be held in Las Vegas this year, it has remained steadfast in holding the actual selection of players in late April.

The NFL announced earlier in the week that it will hold this year’s selection process remotely, with teams making selections from the homes of a designated executive. Many team facilities have been closed to front office personnel for several weeks and no team facilities will be available during the draft.

“Conducting this event virtually, and taking all necessary precautions while doing so, underscores the importance of staying home and staying strong during this unprecedented moment in our history,” Goodell said.

The draft will be televised on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the NFL Network.

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