From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
Leave it to the NFL to adjust on the fly.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last month the player draft would go on as scheduled April 23-25 from Las Vegas, the league’s newest market. The league has shut down all 32 team facilities because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of a glitzy, splashy extravaganza from Sin City, the pandemic has forced the draft to be a TV-only event, with team officials working from their respective homes, and selected players for interviews available via streaming video. This will be the ultimate example of extreme social distancing from the deadly virus.
There are draft mistakes made by teams every season, and with limited opportunities for in-person workouts in March, the probability of selection blunders could be sharply increased.
I think all NFL fans don’t mind missing the hoopla of a showy presentation, instead settling for what team selects which college athlete. Isn’t that the purpose of a draft? Never mind a draftee hugging with the commish before an enthusiastic audience reminiscent of the Oscars or Grammys.
Football is the only major sport that hasn’t completely shut down so far, and could show no intentions of doing so. The full NFL schedule will be announced around May 9.
If the distancing guidelines stay in effect through the end of June, the start of training camps will be threatened. The money-hungry, multi-billion-grabbing NFL — which allowed free agency to go on last month — will continue its business with a touch of defiance regardless of the world’s problems.
n I still marvel the immaculate job the Steelers did drafting players for an eight-year span from 1968-75, when the club produced 21 overall starters. Pittsburgh selected eight future Hall of Famers — half in the first round and another half in ONE draft (1974). The next closest franchises who picked future Hall of Famers over an equivalent time period were the 49ers (4, 1979-86) and Cowboys (3, 1987-1994).
Here are the eight Hall of Famers who paved the way for the Steelers to win four Super Bowls over six years (1974-79): DT Joe Greene (1969, 1st round, 13 seasons, 181 games played); QB Terry Bradshaw (1970, 1st round, 14, 168); LB Jack Ham (1971, 2nd round, 12, 162); RB Franco Harris (1972, 1st round, 13, 173); WR Lynn Swann (1974, 1st round, 9, 116); LB Jack Lambert (1974, 2nd round, 11, 146); WR John Stallworth (1974, 4th round, 14, 165); and C Mike Webster (1974, 5th round, 17, 245).
n Note: Top Secret Fyles will return April 28.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com