PONTIFICATION FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – APRIL 14
By Leo Haggerty

LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

The National Football League is going to go ahead with the 2020 draft.  To me, that’s a good call.

The NFL also decided to cancel the extravaganza that would have been with the Las Vegas venue.  With the COVID-19 virus, another great decision but I hope the NFL goes back to Sin City next year.  I’ll bet it would be worth the price of admission but I digress.

Had a chance to listen to the NFL Conference call with Seth Markman of ESPN along with Mark Quenzel from NFL Network.  Here’s Plan B.

There are two big changes with this year’s three-day broadcast.  The first is that there will be a multitude of individual video sites set up at homes throughout the country.  That is being done to encourage social distancing as well as limiting the number of people at those sites to immediate family members.

How will this work you ask?  Imagine an enormous Zoom call coming into one central location.  Then, as the specific calls are needed, they are relayed from that central location to the main broadcast that is live.

A  monumental feat.  The on-air personalities will be at the mercy of what comes up on their computer screen.  The IT folks will definitely be earning their money, and then some, from April 23rd to April 25th.

Second, there will be one combined broadcast.  Because of the Coronavirus, NFL Network and ESPN along with ABC will poll their resources to produce one program that will be aired on all three networks.  Smart move here.

This was a huge task to accomplish when all of the parties were located at one venue.  To attempt this from a plethora of sites will be monumental in scope.

OK, let’s look at what this will entail.  First, you have the hosts who will be located in one central location.  Then, you have Commission Roger Goodell and then 32 General Managers as well as 32 Head Coaches plus, at least, 40 possible draftees that will be scattered throughout the United States.  Over 100 different individual venues to deal with from a production standpoint.

The trick for the networks will be to try and coordinate each individual selection made by a franchise with the player chosen.  Remember, these players are not sequestered in the green room offstage but at their homes.

Here’s what the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft will look like.  Probably the General Manager of the Bengals will communication their selection to a central NFL location from Cincinnati.  From there, the selection is relayed to Commissioner Goodell at his home in New York to announce the selection.  Then, assuming that the pick is LSU QB Joe Burrow, the hosts will debate the validity of the choice while the production crew scrambles to contact the newest Cincinnati quarterback who is at home in Ohio.  Finally, while Burrow is hopefully on air, the network will attempt to contact Bengals HC Zac Taylor as well as GM Mike Brown for their rationale for the pick.  All of this while the Washington Redskins are on the clock.

This will be repeated 31 times during Round 1 on Thursday.  Then, it’s back at it for 64 picks on Friday with Rounds 2 and 3.  The Saturday finale will feature 128 picks in Rounds 4 through 7.  That’s a heck of an undertaking, right?

Plenty of things can go wrong.  A power outage.  A hacker gets in.  The system crashes.

That’s just three of the possibilities that could lead to failure.  There’s plenty more.

Here’s hoping the NFL and the combined network broadcast has no glitches.  With all the possibilities that can occur that could throw a monkey wrench into the machinery, they’ll need it.