A Look at Some of the NFL's Safeguards During Virtual Draft

Patricia Traina

While technology has come a long way in terms of making our daily lives easier, there are still times when technology fails to perform as expected during the most critical moments, no less.

That's why when it comes to the NFL Draft, which due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will need to be conducted remotely, the NFL is leaving nothing to chance.

Issues such as weak signal strength in remote parts of the country where critical members of NFL war rooms reside, to the security of the home internet networks that will be used by the decision-making teams are concerns.

Then there are other concerns such as bad weather potentially affecting signal strength and random service outages, all of which can turn the NFL draft a nightmare for the 32 teams.

To make sure things go off without a hitch, the NFL is conducting numerous tests to ensure the draft, set for April 23-25, can be held with the same network security and reliability as teams would have if the draft were undertaken in the sanctity of their headquarters.

One safeguard will be a conference call with all 32 teams that will be in progress throughout the draft. If a general manager is hooked up to that call via landline and his internet connection fails, he would be able to unmute his line and announce his pick in a forum in which every other team could hear it.

The league is also considering e-mail as an option for submitting picks, though e-mail would rely on a working internet connection if not a decent cellular signal in the area.

But there are still several risks. For one, there is always the off-chance that a general manager or member of the team's decision brass might forget to mute and unmute his line.

But that concern is nothing compared to the issue of having IT people dispatched to the various homes of the draft decision-makers to make sure that the equipment is not only correctly functioning but also to figure out ways to troubleshoot if something goes astray.

With social distancing still very much in effect, there are also concerns held by draft decision-makers who are reluctant to allow their IT people to enter their homes out of fear of the virus being spread.

The biggest concern appears to be safeguarding the draft boards. In the past, teams would host their draft boards in a conference room where it was kept under lock and key, safely tucked away from the cleverest of hackers.

That likely won't be the case as the teams' draft boards are probably going to be virtual, which puts them at risk to unauthorized viewing should a hacker be feeling particularly ambitious.