Mel Kiper, ESPN’s longtime lead NFL draft analyst, was unable to attend this year’s event because he had not received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The NFL draft, which is being held in Las Vegas, does not have a vaccine mandate for attendees.
“I completely support everyone determining what’s best for their individual circumstances and recognize the value of vaccines,” Kiper tweeted on April 18. “Simply put, my Covid vaccination decision is very specific to my own personal medical history.”
It is likely that Mel Kiper was barred from the draft due to an internal vaccine policy at ESPN. The City of Las Vegas does not have a mask or vaccine requirement, nor does any large U.S. city as of this time.
Mel Kiper has been a staple of ESPN’s NFL draft coverage since 1984. Throughout the season, Kiper conducts mock drafts and almost exclusively covers draft related content.
During the draft, ESPN features a list of the top ten players on Kiper’s big board titled “Mel’s Best Available.”
Although Mel Kiper’s vaccine-related absence dominated draft related trends on social media, he was not the only notable name missing from ESPN’s broadcast. Kirk Herbstreit, a longtime color commentator for the network, was sidelined after doctors discovered a blood clot.
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to come out to Vegas and be a part of this year’s coverage. Doctors have recently found a blood clot in my system and I’m so very fortunate to have really good doctors who I trust,” Herbstreit said. “I feel good, but out of an abundance of caution, I think we’re just going to take a step back from this year’s draft coverage.