BY CHUCK BARNEY
THE MERCURY NEWS/TNS
Like everything else affected by the coronavirus crisis, the 2020 NFL Draft is adapting amid challenging times.
The league announced on Monday that its highly popular offseason event will be a virtual affair showcased on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network. Also, it will serve as a benefit for six charities battling the spread of COVID-19.
Organizers are hoping the draft will prove attractive to sports fans who have had no games to watch during the pandemic.
“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, production chief at ESPN. “We are also committed to producing the ESPN/NFL Network and ABC shows in the safest possible environment for our announcers and production teams.”
Round 1: April 23
ESPN and NFL Network will team to offer a singular presentation, while ABC will present its own primetime telecasts for Rounds 1-3, in addition to simulcasting the ESPN and NFL Network telecast of Rounds 4-7.
Round 1 is set for Thursday, April 23, followed by Rounds 2 and 3 on April 24, and the remaining four rounds on April 25. ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio also will cover the event.
In a bow to the times, the draft — which had been set for Las Vegas, new home of the Raiders — will see teams making their picks from remote locations. The telecast will be handled out of ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
A limited number of commentators will be in-studio while a majority of the analysts, reporters and other experts will contribute remotely from home studios.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will introduce the picks from his home.
As previously announced, the NFL Draft will also feature a “Draft-A-Thon” which will pay tribute to health care workers and first responders in a variety of ways – including raising funds for the work being done to combat the impact of COVID-19. Funds will help support six national nonprofits and their respective COVID-19 relief efforts.
Trey Wingo will host all three days of the draft on ESPN and NFL Network, while Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor will lead ABC’s coverage.
“By bringing the exceptional on-air talent and production staffs of both ESPN and NFL Network together, we hope to deliver a unified presentation of the draft that not only helps raise awareness and funds for the COVID-19 relief efforts, but also provides entertainment that millions of sports fans have been craving,” said Mark Quenzel, an executive with the NFL Network.
Air dates and times
Here is the TV schedule for the 2020 NFL Draft:
- Thursday, April 23, 8-11:30 p.m. Round 1: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
- Friday, April 24, 7-11:30 p.m. Rounds 2-3: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio
- Saturday, April 25, 12-7 p.m. Rounds 4-7: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio