The NFLPA won’t call it a boycott but they are encouraging this year’s draft prospects to consider skipping the NFL draft. The names will still be called but there may not be the ceremonial handshake, donning of the cap and posing for photos with the commissioner. Instead, the player’s association may try to hold their own draft day event in New York.
I feel bad for those 15-20 prospects that will be invited to attend the draft next April. Do they go to fulfill that dream or do they side with their new teammates? I imagine it will be a tough questions to answer but is it fair to even put them in that position?
The draft day experience is about much more than the player who hears his name called as he sits backstage. It is about his family, those that have supported him along the way, his former coaches and his new fan base. Should a mother be denied the opportunity to see her son walk across the stage and be recognized as one of the best football players on the planet? Remember, this is a once in a lifetime experience and not one that can be recreated at a separate NFLPA event that may or may not be seen on television.
Does this mean I think the players should show up just like any other year? Not necessarily. The switch to a first round televised in prime time was undoubtedly a financial plus for the NFL and it is understandable that the players association would be less than keen on having their next round of members participating. What if the league didn’t financially benefit from the first round coverage? What if the league directed a large sum of money towards the communities that would be hurt by lost games or the NFL alumni have have been largely forgotten about or the relief efforts in Japan? Surely the players association could put on a good face for that.
Each side wants to say they have the best interest of the fans at heart, the same fans that have already grown weary of the bickering. It would be a nice touch of normalcy to see the top prospects at the draft and proof that the fans really do matter. The world has much bigger problems than the league’s CBA dispute and a creative solution to the draft day dilemma would go a long way in showing that both sides acknowledge that fact.