NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has threatened to discipline any team personnel who speak out about the league’s decision to proceed with the NFL Draft as scheduled. Thankfully for those of us following world events with a rational mind, that edict doesn’t apply to media covering the NFL.
Best of all, it makes for some good television!
During an appearance on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt Tuesday night, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter was incredulous at the league’s determination to act as if business can continue as usual while the country is near shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Adam Schefter has had enough! pic.twitter.com/AnHeNT0LX3
— The Podcass (@thepodcass) April 1, 2020
“We all want to see the days where we have that distraction of football,” said Schefter. “But OTAs? That’s not happening. Offseason program? That’s not happening.
“The draft is happening only through the sheer force and determination and… lack of foresight, frankly! They are determined to put this on while there is carnage in the streets!”
For Schefter, this may have been his Howard Beale moment.
There is a contingent of fans who want to believe that life — and our beloved pastimes — will soon return to normal. And they don’t want to hear anyone say otherwise. (Look at how upset fans were with Kirk Herbstreit for suggesting that we may not have college football or the NFL this fall.)
Yet how can anyone say when a return to normalcy will be with any degree of certainty? The White House has extended social distancing guidelines through April 30. The NFL Draft falls into that timeline, held from April 23 to 25. OTAs are scheduled shortly thereafter when those guidelines could be extended even further and changed to be more strict.
There’s something to be said for needing something to look forward to, to feel some hope for the things we enjoy. Maybe the NFL feels as if it can somehow contribute to that by continuing as if a season will be played in the fall. The draft can still proceed without its overblown importance as a major event. Yet prospects can’t be flown in for workouts. Scouts, coaches, and executives can’t travel to evaluate talent. Teams can’t even conduct regular business at their complexes right now.
So should the league be acting as if everything is all right? No games have been postponed or canceled because it’s not time for that yet, but can the NFL publicly pretend that’s not a possibility when much more gravely important news is occurring throughout the world right now?
That state of denial made Adam Schefter incredulous. Should more people who cover the league and provide commentary follow suit? What’s happening in the real world can’t be ignored right now.