Normalcy inches back to NFL with draft room gatherings OK'd

·2 min read

The NFL has informed teams they can gather in person for the draft, unlike last year when they had to connect via videoconference from their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a memo sent to all 32 teams Friday, the NFL said team personnel will have to socially distance and wear masks at all times regardless of their vaccination status.

Eating and drinking will be prohibited in the draft room, according to the memo, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Last year’s draft in Las Vegas was scrapped because of COVID-19 concerns. Teams were forbidden from gathering at team headquarters, so they met over videoconference from their homes.

Every team must submit their draft plan by March 26 for review and approval by the NFL's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills.

The league said the plans have to first be reviewed by each club's infection control officer and include: location, room layout with square footage, seating diagram and ventilation, entrance and exits and the number of individuals who will be in attendance.

Clubs also will be permitted to use off-site facilities for their draft rooms if they choose.

While last year's setup proved challenging, it also provided good entertainment value with GMs and head coaches getting creative with their home setups and some of their children joining in on the fun.

Commissioner Roger Goodell anchored the draft by broadcasting from his basement, and one of the endearing and enduring images of the odd weekend was the appearance of Bill Belichick’s Alaskan Klee Kai named Nike.

So, the NFL is trying to maintain some of that buzz by keeping cameras on each team's general manager and head coach in their draft rooms in 2021.

This year's draft is scheduled to take place in Cleveland from April 29-May 1 with safety precautions in place.

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Arnie Stapleton, The Associated Press