The NFL draft is the only regular part of the league’s offseason calender we’ve been assured of during this labour turmoil.
That’s still true, but we were all pulling a giant sheet of wool over our eyes if we thought the draft would be free of labour posturing.
Adam Schefter strapped on his brass knuckles to deliver what could be the final blow to any peace whatsoever in the NFL’s 2011 offseason.
The NFL Players Association is putting into place a plan that would prevent each top college prospect from attending next month’s draft in New York, according to multiple league sources. The NFLPA already has contacted 17 top prospects that ordinarily would have received an invitation to attend the draft and informed them not to go.
If this reported master plan is finalized and put in place, the draft will be a shadow of itself. Some of the spectacle will remain, with an endless array of pundits still present to analyze and scrutinize each pick heavily. But there will be no handshakes with Roger Goodell, and no smiling photo-ops.
Players also will not be available for post-draft interviews with ESPN and the NFL Network, a move that will have the greatest impact on the live televised event. The first round is slotted for primetime on a Thursday night for the second straight year.
Schefter’s source said “as of right now, this is 100 percent happening.” Taking their boycott one step further, Schefter also reports the players may be allowed to do interviews with another competing network.
The whole scheme is confusing to even the most legal savvy scribes like Mike Florio. The players’ association now exists in name only, and is officially titled a “professional trade association.” After decertification Friday 32 separate businesses entities were created, and the union ended.
Call the group whatever you wish, but even a few days ago when a union still existed, DeMaurice Smith didn’t have the power to order a player who’s not yet a part of the league to disregard a major event. Routinely the NFL invites the top 15-20 prospects to the first round in New York, and attending is their choice.
Now Smith apparently does have that power, and he’s using it.