This whole “NFLPA” draft “boycott” has created quite the stir.
Last night, I listened to an ESPN Radio host as he stood up for the poor, victimized prospects who’d be robbed of the chance to shake Roger Goodell’s hand and the poor, victimized fans who’d be robbed of a chance to see their team’s newest “future star” don the local jersey for the very first time.
The host alluded to the Tim Tebow experience. Wasn’t that special – seeing Tebow and his family throw on Broncos hats on national TV as the emotional quarterback took a life-changing phone call from Josh McDaniels?
But there’s a flaw in that example. Tebow wasn’t at the draft. He was at home in Jacksonville.
The cameras still found Tebow, just like they find dozens of first-round picks not in attendance every year.
Was Tebow’s experience less special than a player chosen from the green room?
The players aren’t officially asking rookies to boycott the draft, they’re just suggesting they stay away. And in the current labour climate, that’s the right move. Prospects who opt to throw draft parties with friends and family will undoubtedly attract news cameras — and maybe even ESPN or NFL Network reporters — and prospects who want to be close to the action will have the option to take part in an event the players are reportedly in the process of organizing in New York.
This isn’t a Helen Lovejoy moment. I’m not wondering why no one is thinking of these soon-to-be millionaires because they won’t shake Goodell’s hand at Radio City Music Hall. They’ll live without that experience. A work stoppage hurts more than just the owners and the players. Fans are collateral damage, and so are rookies.
If by some miracle a deal gets done between now and Apr. 28, then we’ll have stressed over nothing. If not, then prospects will have to settle for a slightly less spectacular experience on draft day. We’re all making sacrifices.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the association formerly known as the NFLPA is making the right move in recommending players don’t smile for photo ops with Goodell on draft day. Doing so would send a bad message to current players.
“There’re a few quarterbacks who could get picked high in this draft and the NFL will invite to New York,” an agent told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King. “All those quarterbacks would do by attending the draft for the NFL is giving DeMarcus Ware more incentive to knock their blocks off the first time they line up across the line of scrimmage from him.”
As for the fans: All they care about is who their team is going to take. They’ll likely get to see that player celebrating at his home or with fellow players, either live or later on. I’m pretty sure not a single one of them cares about getting to see him standing awkwardly next to a man they’re supposedly at war with.