SBD/March 29, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Lockout Watch, Day 18: NFLPA Not Holding Event Opposite NFL Draft

Decision to attend NFL Draft will be left to players like in past
The NFLPA has decided "not to have any events that conflict with the NFL Draft," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. There will be a "wide-range of activities over the three days" for the draftees beginning April 28, and the NFLPA will "wrap-up their week-long events on Saturday night with a reception at 7:00pm Eastern." It is "conceivable that some of these players will not be around for the activities on Friday and/or Saturday." After players are drafted, "there is a window in time that they can go visit the team that drafted them" despite the lockout barring any contact between teams and players. Schefter: "There's enough other conflict between the two sides. Here's three days they've managed to put aside their conflicts" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/28). The decision to attend the Draft "will be left in the hands of each player, as it always is each year." Schefter was unsure whether there was any "pushback" from the players, but he said, "A lot of people have had a lot of different ideas, some very strong opinions on each side of the fence here. I think ultimately the NFLPA is looking at what makes the most sense for them in this situation, the way it is right now" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 3/28).

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? In Philadelphia, Paul Domowitch reports NFLPA officials "insist they have not told the prospects or their agents not to go" to the NFL Draft, but they "also haven't urged them to go have a good time, either." The officials are "doing that let-your-conscience-be-your-guide thing." NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir for External Affairs George Atallah following a sports law panel discussion last night at Rutgers Univ.-Camden said, "We're not saying to them not to go (to the draft). We've never said that. We're not saying that. We were just encouraging them to understand the business situation they were in." Ravens CB and NFLPA Exec Committee member Domonique Foxworth during the panel discussion "indicated he would never try to persuade a young player lucky enough to be invited to New York for the draft not to go." However, he was "much more reluctant to offer his opinion on whether the players should attend the draft" when speaking with reporters after the panel. Foxworth: "I just don't want my statement to skew the decision of any young guys. So I would rather not say" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/29).

GOOD DECISION BY THE NFLPA: ESPN's Trent Dilfer said, "This is a really wise move by the NFLPA not to compete with the Draft coverage Thursday night. I think it also would be wise for the PA to not put pressure on the young rookies to not go to the Draft." Dilfer: "The NFLPA really has to understand the difference between leveraging these young players to make a statement, or robbing them of a really unique experience." ESPN's Suzy Kolber noted it seems "overwhelming to players that we have spoken to that they want to be there." ESPN's Mark Schlereth said the potential Draft boycott was a "tit-for-tat thing, and I just didn't like it from the start." However, he said, "I would love to see the indelible mark put on this Draft if a kid walks out in a T-shirt that says, 'Let Me Play. I'm Locked Out. Let Me Play.' I would love to see that because that's a lasting thing that will be carried not only on our network, but every news network and every news outlet. That makes a statement" ("NFL Live," ESPN, 3/28). CBSSPORTS.com's Pete Prisco said of the potential Draft boycott, "It was a stupid idea anyway. ... In the end, cooler heads prevailed" (CBSSPORTS.com, 3/28).
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