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Thursday's NFL Draft Will Be a Strange One

League teams up with ESPN to hold 'unprecedented' virtual draft
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2020 2:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – Commissioner Roger Goodell won't have to leave his "man cave" to preside over this year's NFL draft, because it's going to be a "virtual extravaganza," per the New York Post—meaning the entire thing will be produced remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. "It's the first fully virtual draft," an NFL spokesman says, per the Journal News. "It's different, but so, too, are these times." CNN Business notes that the draft was originally supposed to be an over-the-top production in Las Vegas, with prospects being brought in by boat to the Bellagio fountain. The virus has changed all of that, leading to what one ESPN exec calls an "unprecedented" event: All of the players, coaches, GMs, and analysts will be participating from their own homes—including Goodell, who'll call out the first-round picks from the basement of his home in Bronxville, New York.

ESPN anchors, meanwhile, will work from the network's Connecticut studios. CNN details the complex technological logistics, making "one of the most unpredictable events in all of sports" even more unpredictable. Verizon, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services will help coordinate everything from the 100-plus camera feeds and communications systems to creating "virtual war rooms." Each participant set to be on the air will get a "tech kit" from the NFL, including a microphone, lighting, and a tripod. "It's not going to be like having a high-production camera operator in your living room," the league's chief information officer says. "It's you. Well, you or your mom." Per USA Today, you can watch the draft, which starts Thursday at 8pm ET and continues on Friday, on ABC, ESPN, and the NFL Network. You can also livestream it on the ESPN site or via the ESPN app. (Read more NFL draft stories.)

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