NFL commissioner Roger Goodell believes that in a time when the world is coping with the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, pro football provides a glimmer of hope.
“People look to us for optimism,” Goodell said Wednesday morning on ESPN’s "Get Up.'' “They look to us for bringing communities together. I think the draft is a great example of that, with restoring hope.”
The NFL’s decision to stick to a business-as-usual mode with free agency and now this week’s draft has provided an ancillary benefit of giving fans something else to think about during difficult times.
“It’s hope for our fans,” Goodell said. “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.”
The draft originally was scheduled to be held in Las Vegas for the first time, but those plans were canceled last month because of travel restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of the disease. The league now will conduct its first-ever virtual draft. Goodell will announce the picks from the basement of his home in Westchester County and team executives will conduct all draft-related business from their respective homes.
Goodell reiterated his belief that the league will be able to play a full regular-season schedule, but he said the league will adjust if necessary.
“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.”