NFL an­nual spring own­ers meet­ing sched­uled for late March can­celed

The Kansas City Star - - Sports - BY HER­BIE TEOPE hteope@kc­star.com Her­bie Teope: 816-234-4689, @Her­bieTeope

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.

JOHN BAZE­MORE AP

NFL com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell

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