Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The NFLPA & The Incoming Draft Class

I know it is March Madness season, but I have to have an NFL interjection.  It kind of makes me angry that in a week that we should be doing nothing but focusing on the men’s NCAA Tournament and maybe preparing for St. Patty’s Day festivities, we have to talk about the NFL.  Not in a good way either, not that your team signed a top free agent, or made a big trade.  No, we have to talk about the NFLPA and the battle with NFL owners, basically over that magic number 9 billion dollars.  I can not resist though, this issue is too much of a hot button to ignore.

I woke up this morning to the news that the NFLPA is “recommending” that the incoming top draft prospects not attend the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York.  I put the word “recommending” in quotations because it is not a recommendation.  The NFLPA states that the decision to attend or not is ultimately up to the player and their families.  This may be true, but in my eyes this is a false recommendation, it’s more of an implied order.  It’s one of those situations where your boss calls you into their office and says, “Hey, would you mind doing this?”  What are you going to say?  No?  You say yes because if you say no you know it will negatively impact your work and possibly your career. 

The NFLPA is putting the incoming draft class of college kids in a horrible position right off the bat.  The NFLPA will become a union again and these kids that will be drafted are going to become part of that union when this is all said and done.  If these kids choose to go to the actual draft it will be considered crossing the picket line.  This could negatively impact how these players are viewed by their peers and coworkers.  It’s a position they should not have to be in and a decision they should not have to make. 

The incoming NFL draft class is already going to get the short end of the stick with the 9 billion dollars being battle over.  The rookie wage scale is a guaranty; it is one thing both sides agree on.  It amazes me that the players that want to take money away from the rookies to put into the veterans pockets are asking those same rookies to boycott the biggest day of their lives.  The NFLPA is essentially saying, we are going to negatively impact your financial security, but we want you to come join us down the street and not attend the actual draft that we all got to enjoy ourselves. 

This situation just brings out the selfishness of the NFL players.  A lot of the top players in the NFL attended the draft.  They got to walk across the stage, shake the commissioner’s hand, hold the jersey up and put the hat on.  Their families were there, all expenses were paid, they did interviews and I am sure it was one of the greatest days of their lives.  Now they are asking the incoming draft class to forego that experience.  They are asking them to attend the NFLPA draft down the street, where they can shake the hands of DeMaurice Smith and possible Kevin Mawae, ooooh, big deal. 

The NFLPA is trying to go as far as allowing the players to be interviewed on a competing network or worse on a multimedia website.  I can see it now, “With the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select…”  Then the fans would have to switch to a different channel to see the interview, or log on and watch it on YouTube or Facebook.  The lack of consideration for the fan base and now the rookies just makes the NFL and the NFLPA look that much worse. 

As frustrating as this off season has been as an NFL fan, it has to be even harder for the incoming draft class with a curtain of uncertainty over their futures.  They are going to get less money then in years past combined with a much shorter start then any other draft class in years.  If this battle extends into the season, some of the players drafted will not even get a chance to showcase what they can do in actual games before being cut.  They can’t get a playbook, see the facility, attend OTA’s etc…  It makes their rookie season almost a wash and extremely difficult to even get on the field. 

When a deal was not attained and the NFLPA decertified it opened up a Pandora’s Box of issues that will continue well into the spring and through the summer.  Leave these kids out of it; it is not their battle yet.  Let them have their day and the same experience other players have had in the past.  I say compromise and come together for one day at Radio City Music Hall in New York.  Both the players and the owners are going to make money off of this class, the least they can do is allow them the moment. 

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