April 6, 2020 / 8:56 PM / 2 months ago

NFL Draft to occur in 'fully virtual format,' with team personnel kept apart

FILE PHOTO: Jan 29, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during a press conference before Super Bowl LIV at Hilton Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The upcoming NFL draft will take place in a “fully virtual format,” the league confirmed in a letter to teams on Monday, with personnel advised to stay at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft, scheduled to begin April 23, will take place “with club personnel in separate location and able to communicate with one another and draft headquarters by phone or internet,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in the letter obtained by Reuters.

One of the few events left on the professional sport calendar for the coming weeks, the dazzling annual affair was expected to take place in front of a packed Las Vegas crowd, with team personnel huddled together in team facilities as they plotted their picks.

But the event is expected to look dramatically different from years past, with Goodell advising personnel across all 32 teams to stay at home.

“We are operating in an environment unlike anything we have experienced before, one that requires flexibility, patience, and cooperation,” Goodell wrote. “We should not lose sight of the magnitude of this global health crisis.”

League facilities have been closed since March 13 and team facilities shuttered since March 26.

The upcoming NFL season is still scheduled to move forward, with the first regular season game slated for Sept. 10.

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Will Dunham

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