The show The League was about a fantasy football league, and yet, so much more. Each season would start with their league's draft and some sort of crazy bullshit happening along the way. But the one time it all truly went down the toilet for all the characters is the season they did a mostly-online one. Welp, guess what the NFL is doing this year?
For the first time, and hopefully the last, all 32 teams in the NFL will conducting the 2020 draft entirely virtually. The ridiculous pomp and circumstance of the NFL draft being done in person is unlike anything in any other sport. The NBA has an in-person draft but doesn't stretch it out over four days like the NFL, mostly because there are only two rounds and no one wants to watch the Spurs draft a Finnish forward they'll stash in Europe for 5 years. The MLB has 40 (!!!) rounds and can't get the media attention the NFL does because no one cares about baseball until the World Series. In an era where kids are recruited to college primarily through social media, an online draft should be a breeze ... and it will almost certainly not be.
Like, y'all have been doing Zoom calls during this pandemic, right? It takes way too damn long to get that shit set up with just three people at a time -- there are 32 NFL teams. Teams which are throwing every technological brain in their organizations at making sure this goes off without a hitch, but are still going to require the input of a bunch of old dudes who run around yelling about "smashmouff footbawww!" Even the fancypants "analytics-minded" franchises have difficulty getting a fax in on time, so who thinks they're going to be able to do anything with a webcam but maybe catch a scout accidentally saying something racist about a linebacker from the SEC?
One of the biggest obstacles is going to be the timing system -- when each team is "on the clock," they'll have an amount of time (that reduces over the course of 7 rounds) to submit their picks to the Commissioner before that pick is skipped. In the big-deal first round, it's traditionally been 15 minutes, and that's when everybody was in the same building. You'd think that'd be plenty of time to phone in the name of someone you'd been scouting for months, but nope -- they still drag it out until the last second. It's entirely plausible that the Raiders end up without their first pick because Jon Gruden can't figure out how to keep his iPhone screen on long enough to dial a number and chucks it into a wall. And what about the potential for trades? Some team, not naming names, is going to blow a bunch of time trying to communicate a multi-team trade and completely botch the operation.
Meanwhile, due to social distancing, we're not going to get the awkward player and Roger Goodell as an entire crowd rightful boos the commissioner. We're not even going to get the draft-day sliders, stuck in existential hell, hoping to get picked (but not by the Lions) for a seeming eternity of time on TV time.
It's gonna be a rough weekend for the NFL, where their "war rooms" are going to look more like Charlie's Pepe Silvia wall from Always Sunny by the time it's all done. However, we do have a guess at who's draft will actually go smoothly -- the New England Patriots. They've been using secret video tech for years to outfox the rest of the league, so they'll be just fine.
Top Image: Marianne O'Leary/Wiki Commons