This year's draft, obviously, will be unlike any other in NFL history.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has reshaped the draft process completely, and the televised draft itself will look much different. That begins with the inclusion of a Draft-A-Thon fundraiser throughout the seven rounds to benefit those affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic.
"When it became clear that this draft is going to have a different look and feel, we started to think, 'Really, what is the best way for the NFL, in this moment, to continue to bring people together and unify in such an unprecedented time?'" said Anna Isaacson, the NFL's senior vice president of social responsibility, "and really say, 'Let's use our platform, let's use this moment in time to give back, to raise funds, to raise even more awareness, to really use our platform for good.' So that's really where the Draft-A-Thon was really born."
The fundraiser, which will be promoted throughout the draft on each of the broadcasts on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network, will also be heavily promoted through a multi-person video chat host on the NFL's digital properties and will feature celebrities, football legends, other influencers and health-care workers. Rich Eisen and Deion Sanders will host the event, and Kevin Hart, Quavo, Toni Harris and Kane Brown will be among the guests.
Draft-A-Thon will allocate funds to six national charities and their local chapters: the American Red Cross, the CDC Foundation, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army and United Way. Half of the total money raised will go to the national organizations to be distributed across the country wherever the funds are needed most.
The other half, Isaacson said, will be directed to local chapters of those organizations as decided by each NFL team. The Broncos have decided that their portion will benefit Mile High United Way and be earmarked for the Colorado COVID Relief Fund.
"Our ask is simple: If you can give, give. If you can't, that's OK," Isaacson said. "Use the Draft-A-Thon, use the draft as a moment in time, hopefully a little moment of levity and as a break from all 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."
If you're already eager to donate to the fund, please visit nfl.com/relief.
The Broncos also have an online auction fundraiser to raise money for the Colorado COVID Relief Fund that runs through Friday at noon. Fans can bid on autographed items from John Elway, Peyton Manning, Terrell Davis and Phillip Lindsay, among others. Or they can try to win exclusive experiences like a review of the upcoming 2020 draft class with Director of Player Personnel Matt Russell or a round of golf with Head Coach Vic Fangio at Topgolf.
The team has also inspired fans to help during this time in a number of ways. Previously, it held a personal protection equipment drive for local hospitals and has also encouraged fans to donate directly to the relief fund or to follow the fund's directions for how to volunteer during the local stay-at-home order.
"I've been inspired with how the community has joined together in supporting the COVID relief efforts," said Allie Engelken, the Broncos' executive director of community development. "As Coloradans, we naturally band together to help each other, and I've appreciated so much that non-profit partners, as well as corporate partners and local businesses, are still providing essential services as well as ways for people to support. We understand that this has negatively impacted so many of our neighbors, but those who have the ability to provide a monetary or in-kind contribution or a donation of their time, are still there, and they want to help get the community back on its feet as quickly as possible."
Given the urgent need for help and resources for many of these organizations, the Broncos' platform and efforts can play a significant role in the Denver and Colorado area.
"We've seen an increase in the need for everything from blood donations to access to food," Engelken said. "And so as we ebb and flow through the next few months, it will be crucial for us as an organization to work alongside the experts in their fields – the non-profit partners, first responders and health care professionals - for the betterment of our community. We will continue to see our Broncos players, leadership and fans wanting to and willing to step up. And when we get back to a new quote-unquote normal, I think we will be closer than ever and on the same team moving forward."