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NFL cancels annual owners' meetings because of coronavirus outbreak

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a news conference prior to Super Bowl LIV at the Hilton Miami Downtown on Jan. 29, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Cliff Hawkins

Amid growing concern about the coronavirus pandemic, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced Thursday that the league’s annual owners’ meetings scheduled for March 29-April 1 have been canceled.

In addition, several NFL teams have suspended their pro day travel plans to evaluate college prospects in advance of next month’s draft. The NFL has no plans to move the start of the league year, which is set for next Wednesday and will begin the free-agency signing period.

Goodell said in a statement that all business that was scheduled to occur at the March meetings will be done at the league’s May 19-20 meetings in Marina del Rey, California.

“There will be full consideration and votes on any open football issues, including playing rules, bylaws and resolutions, as well as other business matters that were on the agenda for the Annual Meeting [in March] at the Spring meeting,” Goodell said. “Most of the first day will be dedicated to football-related issues. Head coaches and general managers will participate in the meeting.”

Goodell added that the “decision was made consistent with the league’s primary concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations. We will continue to closely monitor developments, consult with leading experts and be prepared to make any changes necessary as circumstances warrant.”

The Giants, Jets, Eagles, Vikings, Dolphins and Redskins are among the teams that have suspended travel for their scouts and executives.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Giants said they convened an internal task force to monitor developments of the COVID-19 outbreak 10 days ago.

“As of today and for the foreseeable future, we have taken our scouts and coaches off the road for pro days and campus workouts,” the statement said. “All business travel has been suspended until further notice. In addition, we will limit visitors and personnel to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center and have required most of our employees to work from home for the next two weeks.”

The statement added that the team will “continue to assess our operations and procedures based on what the medical community and science dictates. Our concern and care is for those in our organization, our staff and players, and the communities in which they live.”

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement: “Due to health and travel concerns surrounding COVID-19, we have informed all of our scouts and coaches that they must return to their home bases and travel will be suspended until further notice. The health and safety of our staff and players is our number one priority and we feel that these are the necessary precautions given the current circumstances.”

NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported that the Redskins also will cancel their 30 pre-draft visits to their team facility in Virginia.

The Ravens said in a statement: “The Ravens organization takes this public health matter very seriously. We have implemented internal policies that align with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which continue to evolve. We are closely monitoring every aspect of this situation, and we will adapt our procedures to remain in accordance with CDC recommendations as developments are made.”

With Tom Rock

New York Sports