Imagine a little boy who has elite talent. He's sitting in a room, gazing outside of a window, tossing a football up and down, up and down, up and down.
There the young lad sits, visualizing the day when Roger Goodell calls his name aloud at Radio City Music Hall officially welcoming him into the NFL fraternity with jersey and hat ceremoniously in tow.
It's a moment he's been dreaming about throughout his entire life. A moment he's replayed in his head through every smile, every tear, every push-up, bench press and touchdown.
But it's also a moment that now apparently is in danger of being taken away from the 2011 NFL draft prospects for the greater benefit of the entire "brotherhood"--via a protest of some sort it seems.
On the heels of a report Monday that revealed the NFL Players Association is planning to boycott the annual draft festivities in New York and all its glitz and glamour, comes a Twitter clarification from the decertified union today.
"Let me also correct the record: the NFLPA is not asking anyone to 'boycott' anything. NFL Draft in particular," wrote George Atallah, the assistant executive director of external affairs on his Twitter account. "The NFL Draft is special. Players and their families will be in NYC. It just maybe different. We will provide details when we can. Lots of interesting commentary on the possible NFL Draft issue. Fans rightfully frustrated.
"We will set the record straight today. I have been careful about what I can say on the record given our post-lockout world. There is a lot of frustration out there from everyone. The anger is palatable, but stick with us, we will be return to our positive message. We will get back to focusing on the good," added Atallah.
So to be clear, there will be an NFL draft this year which the 2011 expired Collective Bargaining Agreement expressly allows. However, the NFLPA is challenging the legality of the event not only in its class action suit, but also in its consideration to alter this annual tradition.
Here's the problem for the NFLPA: not only is this prime time "tradition" a fan-beloved spectacle, but it's also a huge money-making circus they're apparently not comfortable making more profitable for the league given the current climate of labor strife between them.
Theoretically, this idea makes sense and is equally founded in their basis to disband, but the question is will it one: fracture their relationship with fans who are emotionally attached to the event; and two, give more room for the league to wedge the relationship between prospects and veterans to make the group as a whole more vulnerable.
So what is the NFLPA to do?
Build a bridge perhaps.
An idea is to have a separate event, at a separate venue, aired by a competing broadcast network that would be organized by players. In this scenario draftees would walk up on their stage, greeted by their future teammates, to make the NFLPA's point--while still celebrating the "moment" of course.
Different you say? Different indeed.
But is it fair?
Well hugging future teammates at a hotel down the street is still certainly special, but it's certainly not Radio City Music Hall with Roger Goodell.
In other words, there is no way to hide, change, veil nor shadow that what the NFLPA seemingly wants from this upcoming crop of draft prospects is a good ole' fashioned sacrifice.
Sacrifice. Plain and simple.
Now, it is true that there are times when a generation is faced with critical issues at an unfortunate time when they must decide if they want to push for their collective futures or let it push them.
However, a dilemma rises from the feeling of injustice that some before them didn't have to endure the plight of the hour, and that some of those behind them won't have to either.
"So why us?" the 2011 draft prospects might ask. "Why now?"
Are they being used as pawns on a ego board of Chess? Or are these upcoming prospects players in a necessary game to better the NFL?
There again is that little boy, except right now he is on your street. He is sitting in a room, gazing outside of a window, tossing a football up and down, up and down, up and down.