NFL annual spring owners meeting scheduled for late March canceled
The NFL has officially joined other sports entities in erring on the side of caution against the increasing threat of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, calling off its annual owners meetings.
The league announced Thursday morning that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell informed teams that the annual event, which was scheduled for March 29-April 1 in Palm Beach, Florida, has been canceled.
According to a league statement, the decision to cancel the event was made after “careful consideration and consultation with medical experts.”
“This decision was made consistent with the league’s primary concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations,” the NFL’s statement read. “We will continue to closely monitor developments, consult with leading experts, and be prepared to make any changes necessary as circumstances warrant.”
Decisions pertaining to football operations, proposed rule changes, bylaws, resolutions and business matters will now be put off until the next league meeting on May 19-20, according to the statement. NFL general managers and head coaches will participate in the May meeting.
The league still plans on kicking off its new calendar year — and the start of free agency — on March 18, a league spokesman confirmed Thursday to The Star. The spokesman added that the league has not mandated the cancellation of pre-draft visits at teams’ facilities or predraft workouts at drafteligible prospects’ respective college campuses. Those decisions will be left to individual teams’ discretion.
Some NFL teams have elected to proceed, but with caution. The Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles announced Thursday that their respective coaching staffs and team scouts were being recalled to homebase operations.
The Chiefs followed later with a similar course of action.
“All non-essential Chiefs personnel have been instructed to work remotely for a minimum of 14 days beginning Monday, March 16,” the Chiefs said in a statement. “Additionally, we have suspended business travel and all non-essential travel for our coaches and scouts for the time being as we continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19.”
Whether there will be draft-eligible prospects for the Chiefs or other teams to evaluate in person remains to be seen. Multiple sources on Thursday told The Star that scheduled pre-draft visits and predraft workouts have already been canceled.
Meanwhile, the sports landscape at the collegiate and professional levels have proven to be fluid over the past 48 hours.
And the NFL’s decision to cancel the annual gathering comes in the wake of numerous cancellations of various sporting events outside of the NFL because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City canceled play Thursday, while other conferences, including the Big 10, SEC and Big East, did the same. Duke and Kansas, two basketball powerhouse schools, announced the indefinite suspension of athletic activities.
On Wednesday night, the NBA suspended play after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus. On Thursday, MLB suspended spring training and delayed opening day by two weeks, the NHL announced a pause of its regular season and NASCAR announced two scheduled racing events would be held without spectators.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell