New NFL memo lays foundation for about-face on “small war rooms”

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On Wednesday, PFT asked the NFL via email whether the decision to allow “small war rooms” of up to 10 people can be harmonized with “stay at home” orders that have been issued in most of the states in which NFL teams do business. The NFL did not respond to the question, which later was posed publicly via this blurb.

On Thursday, the NFL responded to the obvious dilemma, in a different way.

In a memo from NFL Football Operations and the NFL Management Council dated April 2 to all teams and first obtained by ESPN, the league provides “additional clarity” regarding draft-day preparations that, as of Tuesday, allowed teams to arrange small off-site gatherings for draft purposes. And that clarity likely will be, in time, an about-face regarding the possibility of allowing teams to gather in “small war rooms.”

The memo explains that the NFL currently is considering two options: (1) allowing teams to gather at club facilities, subject to mandatory health and safety guidelines issued by the league; or (2) requiring the the draft to be conducted in “totally remote” fashion, with the picks made in “personal residences, with a clear prohibition on any number of club personnel gathering in one residence.” The memo also explains that a decision will be made “based on several factors,” including “the impact of any shelter in place or similar executive orders that are imposed in club jurisdictions.”

In our view, the memo amounts to a face-saving way of admitting that Tuesday’s announcement flat-out failed to take into account the basic reality that one or more states in which the NFL does business won’t allow coaches, General Managers, owners, or anyone else to leave their homes for the draft. No matter how essential the league may think having a draft war room is to team business, it’s likely not within the realm of essential activities that justify leaving home at this critical juncture of controlling the spread of coronavirus.

And here’s why the end result will be that all club officials will be confined to their homes for the draft: If even one state in which the NFL does business refuses to authorize a deviation from a “stay at home” order, then all team will be required stay at home. And, surely, at least one state in which the NFL does business will tell the NFL that the draft is work that can and must be done at home.

15 responses to “New NFL memo lays foundation for about-face on “small war rooms”

  1. The region specific nature of pandemics is extremely problematic for professional sports leagues. With teams scattered throughout the country, the NFL cannot have an expectation of uniformity in terms of outbreaks from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And each jurisdiction will have their own health orders in place dependent on the outbreak in their area. The NFL knows this and is trying to present a positive message in order to elevate the hopes of the league’s most hardcore fans. Realists know that the chances of the NFL having a normal schedule this season are slim to none.

  2. If other cities are anything like it is here in Dallas, there are much larger gatherings of people to worry about than the makeshift war rooms with potentially a max of nine people in them

  3. I understand the pessimistic outlook for the 2020 NFL Season, given the environment we are in presently, but Sept is a full 6 months away and there have been a few breakthroughs already on treatment.. The dark is always darkest before the light at the end of the tunnel or before dawn or whatever I believe the saying is, so let’s think positively for once..

  4. Sensible. I appreciate the NFL for focusing on what they can do instead of what they cannot do.

  5. Guess I’m slow but seems like with all the technology today people don’t need to necessarily be in the same room.

  6. The solution is alarmingly simple and obvious. Each team owner simply adopts the draft crew he wishes to assemble. Then establish the “family residence” at whatever place they wish. Then simply “live” there for as long as needed. Following the draft, the aggrieved parties can simply consent to divorce, thereby severing the family adoptions. May cost a few bucks in legal fees, but come on, how hard can this be?

  7. I can see right now where some team will have a player turn into a first round bust and they will blame it on how the draft was held.

  8. This is not hard. The NFL’s problem is when they try to insert their wishes above the requirements of state authorities where some teams operate. They need one memo. Just state that the draft will be conducted via telephone and team reps are not authorized to gather at team facilities. That’s it. No numbers, no stipulations, no nothing. Everybody is equal in the eyes of the league. If individuals/teams choose to break any state laws or ordinances, they can be dealt with via the conduct policy already in place if the individuals are charged.

  9. With today’s technology, it shouldn’t be too difficult to conduct a draft remotely.

  10. Much ado about nothing…..
    We have the technology to EASILY pull this off…. just add 5 more minutes to 1st round picks & 3 more minutes to day 2 picks & keep day 3 picks the same…..Give each coach & GM 4 phones each that are
    Pre programed with all the other teams phones to work trades while they are also on conference calls with each other to debate strategies Amongst themselves while both on & off the clock…..

  11. Because there will be a lot of technology used that they are not familiar with, it would make sense for the teams to hold their own “mock draft” for a round or two with a group of lower level coaches on their staff pretending to be other teams, to see how the logistics look in different scenario’s like if someone moves up or makes them a trade offer. This way they are prepared to communicate. Belichick is probably already doing this. Like the McDonalds brothers in The Founder. Could actually make it more interesting.

  12. I don’t know about you guys, but every time I need to rely on “technology” to help me, it fails at the worst moments. I can’t wait for the drama and intrigue when teams can’t get their pick in because of bad service. So I can see what teams would want small draft rooms.

  13. If every member of the war room is required to test negative for the coronavirus.. then it should be ok to have 100 people in the room.

  14. therealraider says:
    April 3, 2020 at 2:46 am
    If every member of the war room is required to test negative for the coronavirus.. then it should be ok to have 100 people in the room.
    There are limited tests and their reliability is not 100%

  15. There are THREE teams in California, which has a Stay-At-Home order in place at least through May 3rd. Can’t believe they will get anyone in public authority to buy that this is an ESSENTIAL activity (even though we rabid fans might disagree).
    So if they want a level playing field for all, everyone in the NFL will be working from home.

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