It’s amazing how quickly perception changes these days. The last couple of weeks in February before the CBA blew up, I was struggling to try to figure out the NFLPA’s culpability in the labor mess. I was unable to come up with an answer, and most fans were on the players’ side. Since decertification and escalation of the PR war, the players have lost their righteousness and keep making miscalculations that are coloring them as more selfish with each passing day.
Monday, it was reported that the Union Formerly Known As the NFLPA (UFKANFLPA?), wants the incoming rookies to boycott next month’s draft. With the lockout and current court battles, the draft is the only NFL event that will happen until a new CBA is agreed upon. The incoming rookies are not a part of the NFLPA until they are drafted, and the NFLPA is asking them to not be part of this official NFL event. The NFLPA has put the new rookies in a no-win situation, and it’s really quite a shame. (Of course, once the rookies are drafted, they are officially locked out of the league, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.)
The NFL generally invites somewhere between 8-15 of the top rookie prospects to the draft to come out and shake hands with the commissioner and pose for pictures holding up his new jersey. It’s one of my favorite moments in sports, because as scripted as it is, you get to see true emotion out of these kids. They worked their whole life for this moment and you can see the sense of excitement and relief that they’ve finally made it. All their years of hard work finally paid off. They are officially NFL players. Whether it’s for the love of the game, or the big fat paycheck that they are about to receive, they’ve final reached their ultimate goal.
The NFLPA wants to take that moment away from these kids. The same NFLPA who’s about to put a salary cap on these incoming rookies (which I’m 100% behind, but that’s not the point right now.) The NFLPA wants to take away their week of gigantic exposure which could also lead to the start of mega-sponsorship deals. Now, no matter if these kids show up for the draft or not, their choice will be clouded in controversy and they are going to have to answer questions about it.
Ever since the NFLPA decertified, their moves have become more and more selfish. What are these rookies to do? If they cross the “picket line” and show up at the draft, will they be marked as scabs for their career? If they don’t show up at the draft, will it hurt the position they get drafted? They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.
Highly rated prospect Patrick Peterson has come out and said that he’s heard about the NFLPA boycott request, but no one has talked to him directly. “I would like to go if possible. That’s what you play football for.”, Patterson said of the draft. If anyone in the players trade association thinks they are not messing with one of the biggest moment of these kids lives, maybe they should have talked them first. Before going to the media.
The NFLPA should be ashamed of itself for putting these kids in this position. It’s bad enough that they are going to be handicapped by coming into a league with no off-season, but now they have to start off the pro careers by making an impossible decision. I guess this might be a good insight as to what kind decision makers they will be on the field. Just when I thought this labor fight can’t get any uglier, it always seems to find a way. I fear for what tomorrow may bring.