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NFL Draft will go on, says Roger Goodell, who aims to silence critics

There'll be no show akin to what the NFL put on for its 2018 Draft at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but the league maintains it will go forward with this year's edition in about a month's time.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

At least one major sporting event won’t be rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic: The NFL Draft, which commissioner Roger Goodell said will still be held April 23-25.

And anyone within the league who disagrees has been informed to keep it to themselves.

According to a memo distributed through the league on Thursday, the NFL’s Management Council Executive Committee was “unanimous and unequivocal that the Draft should go forward as scheduled.” The league did announce two weeks ago that all public events related to the spectacle, which was to be in Las Vegas and figured to outdraw the estimated 600,000 who attended last year’s Draft in Nashville, were canceled.

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The annual owners meetings, which were to be held March 29-April 1 in Florida, were axed earlier this month due to the outbreak. The spring owners meetings, scheduled for May 19 in Marina del Rey, Calif., remain as scheduled.

The memo outlined further changes, including guidance that teams should prepare to conduct their work outside team facilities and with a limited number of personnel. Draft prospects and their families, who were originally to be part of a true Vegas show, taken by boat to a main stage set up over the Bellagio fountains, will not be in attendance this year.

Goodell stressed in the memo “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.

“I also believe that the Draft can serve a very positive purpose for our clubs, our fans and the country at large,” he continued, “and many of you have agreed.”

Some league personnel have not, however, and Goodell offered them a warning, declaring “public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose, and is grounds for disciplinary action."

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According to the league, last year’s Draft averaged a record 6.1 million viewers across three networks (NFL Network, ESPN, and ABC) and digital channels.

The Patriots draft 23rd overall and have 12 picks this year, though just one in the first 86 selections after sending their second-round choice to Atlanta for Mohamed Sanu last October.