2020 so far has been a weird year in sports to say the least. For all sports fans and us Champions, it’s been a sad year thus far. Very little and now no sport to watch. No sport to talk about. No sport to play. Tipping comps have been cancelled. Fantasy sports put on hold.
Almost every sport has been affected in some way so far. One major code that has yet to feel any real COVID-19 fallout yet, is the NFL. Super Bowl LIV was run and won on 2 February 2020 (or the 3rd for the Champions in Australia) which was prior to the US really beginning to feel the true impact of the ‘Rona.
If you truly follow NFL, you know that there are certain milestone events that happen every off season that keep fans interest in the sport humming along. The combine at Lucas Oil Stadium went ahead as planned and there seemed to be little disruption over the 4 days of testing while rookies across all positions were put through their athletic and skills paces.
Free agency has come and gone and there were some big moves made. Arguably none bigger than the Deandre Hopkins – David Johnson trade between the Texans and Cardinals. Many are still scratching their heads at this one as the Cardinals appear to have got themselves an absolute STEAL and with Larry Fitzgerald unlikely to play on past this upcoming season, Nuk is about as good a replacement as you could hope for. Very interesting to see how the Quarterback shuffle across the league pans out too with Rivers to the Colts (a win now move), Brady to Tampa Bay and Cam Newton appears destined to leave Carolina.
Now comes the next phase of the off season in the rookie draft. Normally the draft is a great spectacle and it provides fans a huge talking point during the off season. Many experts and fans post their best guesses of which teams will choose which players (mock drafts) and of course the mocks are plenty this year too. This year tuning in will provide it’s own point of difference in how the draft is conducted.
Traditionally teams form their “war rooms” with management, scouts and coaching staff spitballing prospects, mulling trade talks with other teams and eventually when the clock starts on their pick, choosing a player. The pick gets submitted to league officials and Commissioner Roger Goodell reads them out (at least on day 1) and then we see players either come up on stage and shake hands, collect jerseys or in a cluster hugging family and supporters.
This year the draft is going virtual. Team staff will be “work from home” just like the rest of us. Gone are the war rooms, but special secure connections and virtual meeting spaces have been set up for teams to host their player discussions. Secure connections with league officials are in place and even Commissioner Goodell will be televised working from home. Different states have different rules in place, for example the New Orleans Saints were preparing to host a war room for their staff at a brewery but the league has enforced a “level playing field” approach and they too will be hosted in the same way as other team staff.
It seems for the NFL, the show must go on and thankfully for NFL fans, there is a show to go on! It’s a welcome bit of relief for sports fans who are crying out for some sporting goodness. If you’ve never watched the draft before, it’s ordinarily an interesting process full of good news stories and happy endings for players who work their guts out to make it into elite sports. Add in the COVID-19 effect and this year will be even more interesting as a spectacle. Let’s hope in time the season can commence and these young men can take their opportunities with both hands.