The game of chicken that is being played between NFL owners and the NFL Players Association has taken a ridiculous turn. You would think that decertified union would be powerless, but clearly the NFLPA’s decertification was nothing more than a legal technicality based on their attempt to prevent highly ranked college players from attending the NFL Draft in April.
Players only get drafted once. Those who are invited to attend the draft with their families have earned the right to be there. Most college players don’t get drafted at all, and only a small percentage ever get the chance to play in the NFL. Making it to the top of the draft is an honor that should not be tainted by negotiations that have nothing to do with these players.
As it is, the NFL Draft is going to be very anticlimactic for the players selected because they will not do anything with their new team until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement is completed.
The irony of the request by the NFLPA is that the players who are likely to be hurt the most under the next Collective Bargaining Agreement are the ones who are being asked to take a stand against NFL owners.
When the posturing ends and negotiations begin in earnest between the NFL owners and NFLPA, it is no secret that a rookie wage scale will be put into place. This makes fiscal and logical sense, but the fact of the matter is that the rookie wage scale is going to cost the players at the top of the draft millions of dollars in guaranteed money.
College players are not a part of the NFLPA, which technically is nothing more than a trade organization at this point since they are no longer a union. It is unfair of the NFLPA to try and use this small group of players as leverage in contentious negotiations. Quite frankly, even if the players succumb to the pressure being put on them, it will serve no purpose.
The NFL Draft is going to happen with or without the top players in attendance. The fans who were planning on attending the event will still do so, and the television viewership will not be affected at all.
ESPN and NFL Network can easily allow their analysts to evaluate each pick and show footage of them in college with missing a beat.
Ultimately, the only ones who will suffer if the top players do not attend the draft are the players and their families who will miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Their attendance (or lack their of) will have absolutely no bearing on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Current NFL players should step up and tell the NFLPA to back off of this ridiculous request because it is making the players look bad in the court of public opinion.
Eventually, a deal will be worked out regardless of what happens with the NFL Draft. Those who choose to succumb to the unfair NFLPA pressure will ultimately regret the fact that they allowed themselves to be used as pawns in childish game.