Draftniks can stay home from Vegas

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In the most turbulent week for sports in decades, with the coronavirus pandemic virtually shutting down America, the NFL did its best to conduct business as usual.

And leading the headlines was the expected announcement Tuesday morning from Tom Brady, who shared through his social media accounts he was moving on from the New England Patriots.

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“I don’t know what my football future holds, but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and my career,” Brady wrote early Tuesday. “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM experiences.”

At 43, Brady is expected to be the oldest starting quarterback in the league at the start of next season. The Buccaneers beat out the Chargers and Dolphins to land the four-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and three-time league MVP.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook closed its wagering Sunday on where he would land, with New England and Tampa Bay favored at -110.

“We got a lot of interest the few weeks that we had it up,” said Jeff Sherman, VP of Risk Management at the Westgate’s SuperBook. “Going forward we’ll offer similar type of things like that.”

Sherman said his book has been seeing continued action based on free agency movement and doesn’t believe that will change as more players continue to move. Free agency for the NFL officially opens Wednesday.

Other big names reportedly striking deals included the Buffalo Bills landing wide receiver Stefon Diggs in a deal with the Minnesota Vikings. The trade cannot be completed until Wednesday. The Las Vegas Raiders agreed on a contract with free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota, who despite having near-identical career numbers, is expected to be Derek Carr’s backup. The move ended speculation Brady was headed to Las Vegas. The Raiders also  came to terms with veteran TE Jason Witten Tuesday.

What is headed to Las Vegas, minus the hoopla and planned festivities that was expected to usher the NFL into the league’s newest city, is the Draft.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced said in consideration of the information related to COVID-19 and guidance from medical experts such as the CDC, and in coordination with public authorities in Nevada and the City of Las Vegas, the league would modify its plans for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The clubs’ selection of players will proceed as scheduled April 23-25, and the NFL is exploring innovative options for how the process will be conducted. The selection process will be televised, but all public NFL Draft events in Las Vegas were canceled.

“This decision reflects our foremost priority — the health and safety of all fans and citizens,” Goodell said. “While this outcome is disappointing both to the NFL and to the Las Vegas community, we look forward to partnering with the Raiders, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for a future NFL Draft as well as evaluating opportunities for other major NFL events in Las Vegas in the future, including the Super Bowl.”

Sherman said the Westgate hadn’t put any NFL Draft props up yet, but after evaluating the landscape as the event gets closer, he expects to have props on the board. He also doesn’t expect to see a decline on the action the book is used to, and the only loss would be the uptick in action he expected with all the local festivities that were planned.

“With all this going on, and the timing of it, there won’t be a lot,” he said.


About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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