Without the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL never would have done many of the things it did in 2020. Some of the changes made out of necessity will become permanent, commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.
“Virtual meetings have now become standard in the NFL; we are not going to have as much [in-person] meetings when we get back,” Goodell said at the NFL Women’s Careers in Football Forum, via Barry Wilner of the Associated Press. “I think technology is something we have embraced and will make us better.”
The NFL was the nation’s only major pro sport to have a complete and full season without a major interruption. It did so by leaning on technology.
The draft last April was the league’s first major event affected by the coronavirus. Many inside the league wanted a postponement. Goodell pushed ahead, and the league’s draft was widely praised as a success.
Bill Belichick’s dog, CeeDee Lamb‘s girlfriend and Mike Vrabel’s son and his friend had unexpected starring roles.
“When I told the teams what we were planning to do, to say there was outcry would be an understatement,” Goodell said. “That had not been done before. They had to adapt, to use technology properly.
“It also gave us a chance to go inside people’s homes. The number of notes I got about being at home with their families and having them experience it [with the players]. . . . And there was not one complaint from a club, which is almost impossible to do. They didn’t feel they were unprepared for the draft.”
Offseason meetings and workout programs went virtual last offseason, and Zoom meetings became standard practice during the season. Much of that is expected to remain into this season and potentially beyond.
“One of the things we talked about throughout the last year was how do we learn from what we are going through?” Goodell said. “What are we going to take forward? It also gave us opportunities to find new ways of doing things that actually are quite popular.”