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Mel Kiper Jr. won’t be on site in Las Vegas next week for the NFL draft.
The longtime ESPN draft analyst will participate in draft coverage from his home studio in Maryland because he is unvaccinated against COVID-19, he announced on Twitter on Monday.
Kiper said he will still be part of ESPN’s coverage for all three days of the draft — which will mark the 39th of his career.
“I completely support everyone determining what’s best for their individual circumstance and recognize the value of vaccines,” Kiper said in his statement, in part. “Simply put, my COVID vaccination decision is very specific to my own personal medical history.
“I appreciate my colleagues, particularly the 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 has been part of ESPN’s draft coverage for decades, and he’s perhaps the most recognizable figure when it comes to the draft each spring. Kiper first joined ESPN in 1984, and has been with the network ever since.
He didn’t elaborate further on his decision or reasoning to remain unvaccinated.
The first round of the NFL draft is set for April 28, and the following rounds will run through April 30 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
The draft was initially supposed to be in Las Vegas in 2020, but the league adjusted it due to the pandemic. They then held it last year in Cleveland, and are now returning to the city two years later.