1. NFL holding 'dry run' draft with league's general managers
Early next week the NFL will hold a dry run of the operations of the first remotely conducted draft. According to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, there will be a "mock draft" of all 32 teams, which in essence will be a test on all the systems put in place to make sure it runs as smoothly as possible.
Bills GM Brandon Beane, in a recent appearance on Pro Football Talk Live, is glad there is a run through of all the new technologies being put in place to operate a draft this way.
"This type of dry run is where a lot of the questions we have get answered," said Beane. "I think the league needs to have an option where if you lose your WiFi or you do lose power that a team can turn to their cell phone and call in a pick. I think it'll be important for everyone to have a backup plan if you do lose power. For example, having a board to use manually if you do need to turn to it."
Per Rapoport, picks will be submitted via Microsoft Teams, an online group messaging application, along with several other means of communication as a failsafe.
One such failsafe is a league-wide open call line where all 32 teams will be connected. In the event that they cannot communicate their pick via Microsoft Teams, they can unmute themselves on the league-wide call and simply verbalize their pick.
As far as potential trades are concerned, there will be a separate and secure line for draft trades. Teams will call in and speak on that line to complete trades to have multiple voices on it (GM, assistant GM, etc). According to Rapoport, this too will be simulated next week in the mock draft.
2. Stephen and Lindsay Hauschka preparing for child No. 2
Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka is just one of hundreds of NFL players adjusting to life amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently residing in his Newport Beach, California home with his wife, Lindsay and two-year old son, Jones, the Hauschkas are also expecting their second child, which led to a big decision.
In a written entry to 'Football Morning in America' the weekly column by Peter King, Hauschka outlines the decision he and Lindsay made with his wife due soon and how he's staying prepared for whenever NFL offseason programs can commence.
"My wife Lindsey and I are expecting another boy in a month. We're trying to be super-cautious. We decided to have a home birth, and that decision looks even better now. I probably wouldn't be allowed in the delivery room in the hospital now. Being home so much, I've taken a deep dive into cooking. Made some pretty good pizza this week. I know there's chaos in different parts of the country right now, but there's also a lot of goodness in society now, with things slowing down. People have hit the pause button. I see neighbors talking to neighbors.
"I've been doing FaceTime workouts with my trainer. I'm able to use kettle bells, TRX, the Keiser Functional Trainer and Pilates equipment.
"It's a really unique time. It's super weird. So many livelihoods—we're all in a state of limbo. Still, I feel fortunate to be alive right now in this great country."
Hauschka said he's spent a lot of time young son playing with trucks and looking for snails.
3. 2020 NFL Draft telecast to pair ESPN and NFL Network
It had been rumored for weeks, but now it's official. ESPN and NFL Network will present a singular presentation across both networks for the 2020 NFL draft. While ABC will have its own telecast in prime time for round one to three over the first two nights of the draft, ESPN and NFL Network will cover all seven rounds. Rounds 4-7 on the ESPN-NFL Network telecast will also be simulcast on ABC.
With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the draft from being held in front of fans in Las Vegas, the telecasts will originate from ESPN's studios in Bristol, Connecticut. Along with a few commentators in-studio, most of the reporters and draft analysts will be providing coverage remotely from home studios.
This includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who will introduce the draft picks from his home as well.
The NFL is also running a fundraising "Draft-A-Thon" which will support and pay tribute to healthcare workers and first responders fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will support six national nonprofit organizations with their COVID-19 relief efforts.
"We recognize the challenging times we are living in, but we are looking forward to presenting the 2020 NFL Draft and providing some hope for football fans everywhere," said Seth Markman, ESPN vice president, production. "For the past couple of years, ESPN's NFL and college teams have worked together on our draft coverage, and it has been a win for our viewers. This year, we are further excited to collaborate with the NFL Network creating an All-Star broadcast. We are also committed to producing the ESPN/NFL Network and ABC shows in the safest possible environment for our announcers and production teams."