EAGAN, Minn. — The 2020 NFL Draft will be unlike any other in a long history that dates to 1936.
General managers, coaches, owners, club personnel, league officials, prospects and analysts will be participating virtually from remote locations and leaning on technology to facilitate communication.
The structure of this year's draft is in response to social distancing guidelines implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The NFL is also unveiling a Draft-A-Thon fundraiser to benefit six national nonprofits in their respective efforts and pay tribute to health care workers and first responders. The six nonprofits are as follows:
American Red Cross (working to maintain a sufficient supply of blood while continuing to deliver its lifesaving mission)
CDC Foundation's All of Us: Combat Coronavirus Campaign (supporting vulnerable communities and bolstering laboratory capacity, clinical research, data and technology infrastructure)
Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund (helping member foodbanks meet increased needs due to school closures, job disruptions and current health risks)
Meals on Wheels America's COVID-19 Response Fund (helping local communities have what they need to feed at-risk elderly population)
The Salvation Army (addressing needs of individuals and families living in poverty or experiencing homelessness by providing food, shelter, hygiene kits and support to first responders)
United Way's COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund (helping those in need access food and shelter and providing childcare for first responders)
NFL.com/relief launched Friday and is already receiving donations, but the NFL hopes to maximize the impact during the rounds of the three-day draft, which will begin April 23.
NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson said during a conference call Friday that the league always tries to "unify and inspire" through different community events. The current circumstances caused by the pandemic led to a desire to best use the platform that the NFL draft provides to raise funds for relief efforts.
"When it became clear that this draft was going to take a very different look and feel, we started to think about, 'What is really the best way for the NFL in this moment to continue to bring people together and unify in such an unprecedented time?'
Isaacson said the nonprofits that were selected are "blanketing the country or hardest-hit areas, and they're each working on a slightly different part of relief."
Fans will be able to watch a singular broadcast on NFL Network/ESPN or a different broadcast offered by ABC, as well as follow the Draft-A-Thon Live Stream online, which will be hosted by Rich Eisen and Deion Sanders.
"You'll find it on Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo!, NFL.com," Isaacson said. "This will be a multi-person chat experience picture, like The Brady Bunch style where you are talking football but getting the Draft-A-Thon coverage and experience."
Isaacson said Draft-A-Thon coverage will include celebrities, influencers, players and legends talking about what they've done to give back, as well as health care workers talking about what it's like on the front lines.
"Our ask is simple: if you can give, give, if you can't, OK, use the Draft-A-Thon … as hopefully a moment of levity and break from all of the terrible things that are going on around us. If you can give a dollar, great. If you can give more, that's great as well."
Isaacson said the initiative, as well as efforts already been put forth by the NFL with nearly $50 million committed to relief efforts, is "inspiring and heartwarming." The Wilf family ownership group of the Vikings has surpassed $5 million in donations to COVID-19 related causes through the Wilf Family Foundations and Minnesota Vikings. That figure includes a $1 million commitment to United Way Worldwide.
"We know that our communities have done so much for us and sustained us for over a hundred years, so it's our responsibility to give back when times are hard," Isaacson said. "While I'm proud that the NFL family so far has donated nearly $50 million to relief efforts, I know that number is going to grow. Just seeing what individual players and owners and our head coaches and clubs have done for their local communities has been unbelievable.
"Everyone has jumped on this idea of the Draft-A-Thon, asking what more they can do to support, what they can do to help, how they can get the local organizations engaged and involved," Isaacson said. "It's a real coming together and movement that I would say feels more like family when these things happen. I think we recognize the position we're in as a league, and that position means we can do some good in a really hard time, and that's what we've tried to do in the past. This time is certainly no different."