The NFL is welcoming fans back to the draft, announcing Monday that the event, which takes place in Cleveland from April 29 to May 1, will have a select number of prospects, fans and media in attendance.
Clubs will designate a number of draft ambassadors — fans who get front-row seats. They must be vaccinated and wear masks.
Building on last year’s virtual draft, additional prospects will also participate in draft festivities remotely from their homes around the country.
Club personnel involved in the selection process will be permitted to gather in a draft room at a location of their choosing, whether that be their facility or elsewhere while following appropriate protocols.
“We are thrilled to be heading to Cleveland for the NFL Draft, which has become one of the most highly anticipated events in sports” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President, Club Business & League Events. “Just months after executing a safe and successful Super Bowl LV, we look forward to bringing the excitement of our Draft traditions to fans in collaboration with the Browns, Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, the City of Cleveland, and all of our local Cleveland partners.”
The NFL will also build upon the 2020 Draft-A-Thon, utilizing the 2021 draft as a platform to bring awareness to issues impacting communities most affected by the pandemic.
The NFL notified its 32 teams earlier this month that they can return to their draft rooms for the NFL draft.
Teams must follow COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, including no drinking or eating in the draft room headquarters and mask-wearing at all times. Cameras will showcase the location of the general manager and head coach.
The pandemic created a unique viewing experience during last year’s draft as coaches and general managers worked in front of cameras in their homes.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the selections from his basement, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick showcased his dog and Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel had a teenager in a superhero costume as part of his backdrop. Many NFL personnel were shown with their families in the moments after the picks.
NFL team facilities were mostly vacant during that time, but business has slowly returned to normalcy after the league produced a full season with no cancellations. For free agency next week, players can visit team facilities for physicals, which wasn’t the case a year ago.