Reports surfaced on Monday from ESPN's Adam Schefter that the NFLPA was informing potential 2011 NFL Draft picks to boycott the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York on April 28-30. According to Shefter, "the NFLPA already has contacted 17 top prospects that ordinarily would have received an invitation to attend the draft and informed them not to go." That same day, the NFLPA denied that they "told" incoming rookies to boycott the draft, but simply "recommended" that they boycott the draft.
Frankly, the NFLPA cannot tell the incoming rookies to do anything. They're not members of the NFLPA until they're officially drafted. Not to mention that currently, the NFLPA has no control of the players of the NFL. Apparently, the NFLPA is planning on hosting their of 2011 NFL Draft event. Adam Schefter updated his report to include that that NFLPA plans to "give the drafted players the same experience down the street." It will be awkward for incoming rookies to cross the sure picket line headed by high-profile players at the NFL's annual draft event. The NFLPA also has plans for a "parade" to where the alternative draft event will be held.
As of now, the NFL says it plans to go ahead with business as usual and invite the standard 15-20 rookies they planned on inviting to Radio City Music Hall. This however, is just the first of what will surely be many "dirty pool" tactics used by the NFLPA and NFL as the labor issues come more to head in court.
My opinion on the matter?
It's stupid and petty.
Look, we all understand there is a massive and important labor dispute going on. However, by encouraging rookies to boycott the 2011 NFL Draft event, you're doing nothing but giving the finger to the fans. The fans are not who the NFLPA wants to piss off in this situation. All you're going to do is ruin a life long memory for some NFL rookies. All of the current NFL players had their chance with the NFL Draft, why are you going to ruin it for the young guys in 2011? What does it accomplish?
The NFLPA's event would hold interviews with the drafted players. Truth be told, no one really cares was the rookies have to say during the NFL Draft after they're drafted. The whole event is a grand occasion for the draftee, the viewers just want to see who's still available, who their team picks, and what the "analysts" have to say so they can get upset about it. What the players actually think and say is a mere afterthought to most watching the event.
Also, if you're going to "recommend" that the players boycott the NFL Draft you better recommend they boycott having NFL cameras in their homes on draft day as well. If you're going to ruin a memorable experience for someone, you might as well go full bore.
Again, it's unnecessary to even think about doing this. It's just grandstanding and that's not how the NFLPA is going to win the court of public opinion. If I side with anyone other than "give me football" in the whole labor battle, it's with the players. However, things like this make is exceedingly tough for Joe Fan to get behind them.
I'm not sure what the NFLPA is trying to accomplish, but if it's trying to look petty it's accomplished that.