The NFL draft will go on as scheduled April 23-25, commissioner Roger Goodell said in a leaguewide memo distributed Thursday.
In his memo, obtained by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Goodell served warning to those around the league who criticize the league’s stance.
He wrote in the memo, “public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.”
Goodell said the NFL Management Council Executive Committee met Thursday and was “unanimous and unequivocal that the Draft should go forward as scheduled,” despite the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted work for most of the nation.
Goodell acknowledged there would have to be significant changes and told teams to prepare to conduct the draft outside team facilities and with a limited number of people. Prospects and their families will not be present on-site at the draft, according to the memo.
“Everyone recognizes that the public health conditions are highly uncertain and there is no assurance that we can select a different date and be confident that conditions will be significantly more favorable than they are today,” he wrote.
The draft, the biggest event on the league’s off-the-field calendar, was originally scheduled as a lavish affair in Las Vegas before those plans were dropped 10 days ago when the league announced it would not be open to the public.
“I also believe that the Draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans and the country at large, and many of you have agreed,” Goodell wrote in the memo.
Earlier this week, league sources told ESPN the league planned to hold the draft as scheduled despite a recommendation from the league’s general manager subcommittee that it be moved back.
General managers were concerned that, in this current environment, with offseason activities canceled and team facilities closed, there won’t be enough time for player physicals, gathering psychological testing and getting further verified information about the players, in addition to the logistical challenges of some teams having to conduct the draft from home.
On Wednesday’s “The Peter King Podcast,” New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, a member of the GM subcommittee, expressed his preference to push back the draft.
“I’d be personally in favor of delaying the draft, so that we can get some of the work done that our scouts and our personnel people ordinarily do,” Loomis said. “And then just the logistics of trying to conduct the draft, with not having access to your draft rooms and your offices, creates a lot of logistic problems.”
ESPN’s Dianna Russini contributed to this report.