The face of ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage will not be in attendance at the 2022 Draft in Las Vegas, Nevada, due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.
On Monday, ESPN NFL insider Mel Kiper Jr. announced that he’ll be covering the NFL Draft from his home studio in Maryland.
“The NFL Draft is the highlight of my year and I am looking forward to taking part in my 39th this month on ESPN,” Kiper Jr. posted to Twitter. “For all three days, I will appear from my home studio in Maryland rather than onsite in Vegas as I am unvaccinated from Covid-19. I completely support everyone determining what’s best for their individual circumstances and recognize the value of vaccines. Simply put, my Covid vaccination decision is very specific to my personal medical history. I appreciate my colleagues, particularly my production staff and my fellow commentators, for their support and flexibility. NFL fans are the most passionate in all of sports and I can’t wait for another great NFL Draft.”
I am looking forward to being part of the 2022 NFL Draft, my 39th for ESPN pic.twitter.com/C5ea9NjdqK
— Mel Kiper Jr. (@MelKiperESPN) April 18, 2022
Kiper Jr. has been covering the NFL Draft since 1984, becoming the go-to analyst for draft coverage ever since. This year’s draft will be held at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas starting April 28.
As The Daily Wire reported in September, the Walt Disney company — which owns ESPN — mandated that employees receive the vaccine before September 30th or face termination. (Disclosure: The Daily Wire has announced plans for children’s entertainment content.)
“Employees who aren’t already vaccinated and are working on-site will have 60 days from today to complete their protocols and any employees still working from home will need to provide verification of vaccination prior to their return, with certain limited exceptions,” Disney said in its statement announcing the new requirement. “Vaccines are the best tool we all have to help control this global pandemic and protect our employees.”
In September, ESPN anchor Sage Steele called the mandate “sick” in a podcast appearance with former NFL QB Jay Cutler.
“I work for a company that mandates it and I had until September 30th to get it done or I’m out,” Steele said.
“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways,” she continued. “I just, I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, I mean a global company like that.”
Steele later apologized, saying that she knew her comments “created controversy for the company.”
In October, The Daily Wire announced the hiring of former ESPN sports reporter Allison Williams to lead a special sports series that will be available exclusively for Daily Wire members. Williams announced that she would be leaving ESPN in September after choosing to not take the COVID-19 vaccine due to her desire to have a second child.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].