• NFL/NFLPA Debate: Is it fair to steal a boy's dream for a man's future?

    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.

    Ask him.

    Comments 29 Comments
    1. darvon's Avatar
      I think in the age of twitter and everybody is their own Marketing Dept, both the NFLPA* and the NFL needs to remember PR only works when you are selling something, and that fan anger at one side ain't going to do squat in court. It only hurts the product of them both.

      Get classy, NFLPA*.
    1. LongSufferingBucsFan's Avatar
      I'm so glad that you posted this Josina. I heard about this on talk radio this morning and it bugged me all day! I was previously siding with the players, but something like this comes about and it just pisses me off. How dare they ask the draftees to get in the middle of this. We're talking about a time-honored tradition here and they have no right interfering with this momentous occasion for these young guys.

      College football is huge in my state, and we've watched players from several teams do really great things in their college careers. We always look forward to draft day so that we can root for our guys and hope that they'll do well in the draft.

      I'm not too happy with the NFL players for wanting to use them as pawns in their dispute. Let them have their moment, as you all had yours. I want to see them walk across the stage and shake the commissioner's hand. It's tradition. Please don't screw this up for them.
    1. Jerry Jones's Avatar
      I am afraid that the current players (or probably more accurate, the people representing and steering the players through this situation) have no real concerns for the players of the past or the players of the future. Both groups are only valuable to them if they publicly join the players side of the issue. Yes, they are only pawns.
      No sense of history............no eye to the future, it's a sad state of affairs.
    1. Swami's Avatar
      The history of unions is they look out for their current members, period.

      I do feel for this year's college crop. They may miss out on an opportunity to make way more money than many feel they should based on what they have really done to this stage in their lives. But, hey, there's no easy solution to that and it's not their fault.

      So, they're lucky they have athletic talent and have worked to develop it and that it pays ridiculously well in many cases relative to other options at their age.

      And they may be very unlucky not to get paid this year through no fault of their own.

      As you can tell, I can see a few sides to this issue!
    1. brauneyz's Avatar
      So if a potential high draft choice tunes out the recommendation to boycott the draft in NYC and simply shows up, who here who hold it against him?

      Anyone? Bueller?

      Now would be a great time to develop independent thought and the stones to follow through on conviction.
    1. Ripperlicious's Avatar
      No offense Josina, but I don't see a problem with this at all. First of all, only 16 or so of 250 drafted players get to be at the draft to shake his hand. So 16 rookies will be robbed of shaking the Commissioner's hand.

      Secondly, the Commissioner locked out the players, and the rookies didn't do one thing to deserve the lockout.

      Thirdly, the Commissioner represents the owners who want to put a cap on rookie earning potential on their 1st contract. Not only other 1st round picks who won't be there, but especially the high draft picks who are there to shake the Commissioner's hand no less! The one's he'll be affecting the most because they currently get the biggest contracts!

      The media and public sentiment seems to be shifting against the players of late. But like Darvon said, "...fan anger at one side ain't going to do squat in court." I think the players plan to meet and greet a player representative of the drafted team is pretty creative.
    1. LongSufferingBucsFan's Avatar
      I think the players plan to meet and greet a player representative of the drafted team is pretty creative.
      This would be fine if the problem was that Roger Goodell didn't want any part of the draft, but that's not the case. IMO, this is a case of the NFL players hijacking this event for their own selfish reasons, and it sucks for the college players to be caught in the middle. It's not fair to them.
    1. darvon's Avatar
      IMO, this is a case of the NFL players hijacking this event for their own selfish reasons, and it sucks for the college players to be caught in the middle. It's not fair to them.
      I don't think the NFLPA* should do this, but whether it is fair to the rookies is another matter. Very soon those 17 guys will be really concerned whether or not they have a rookie wage scale. Those are the exact players whom a wage scale will hit. They are in the middle of it right now, whether or not they shake Roger's hand.

      But the NFLPA* has no need to fight a PR war, so skip the melodrama and work on your briefs.
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      I completely understand the anger of the current NFL players. The owners planned a lockout, saved for a lockout and planned to use a lockout to force the players to buckle. I get it, the NFLPA* members are angry.

      But this move is just petty. It makes the NFLPA* look like petulant children. The same NFLPA* that was perfectly willing to throw rookies under the bus is now asking those same rookies to sacrifice a huge moment in their lives. Just bad mojo in my opinion.

      The NFLPA* will have it's day in court (a place a lot of their members are familiar with) and will probably defeat the owners while destroying the fabric of the league. Let the NFLPA* savor that future victory and stay out of petty gamesmanship. They already look bad enough in the eyes of the public.
    1. brauneyz's Avatar
      I'm confused. Are we backing the players now? This match is giving me whiplash. Maybe I will just check out till September.
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by brauneyz View Post
      I'm confused. Are we backing the players now?
      Ripper is our lone voice in the wilderness preaching the players' side. And I love him to death for it.

      Despite my anger he keeps reminding me there's another side to the debate. The players haven't done a great job getting their side of the story out so we need folks like Ripper to help them.
    1. NickMykita's Avatar
      Initially I didn't like the NFLPA* trying to meddle with the draft. I thought it was uncool because the college players should not be used as pawns in their battle. However, while I understand how cool it is to hear your named called at Radio City Music Hall, and how thrilling it would be to stand on stage and shake the commissioner's hand, here's the rub: once you get drafted, you are a player, and you will be locked out just like everyone else. You don't get paid to be drafted; you're paid to play, and right now it seems there won't be any playing going on. I see no reason for these guys to stand on stage and hold up a jersey they won't be allowed to wear. At that point, the draft just becomes a cruel joke.
    1. Ripperlicious's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by msclemons View Post
      Ripper is our lone voice in the wilderness preaching the players' side. And I love him to death for it.

      Despite my anger he keeps reminding me there's another side to the debate. The players haven't done a great job getting their side of the story out so we need folks like Ripper to help them.
      I appreciate the comments and I wouldn't consider myself a boat rocker. All I know is that the players are wealthy because of their athletic ability. And the owners are rich because they are sharp business men. They are sharks with blood in the water when it comes to money.

      I want NFL football as much as the next guy, but I gotta side with the underdog in this monetary fight.
    1. Josina Anderson's Avatar
      Great comments guys. Well-informed as usual. You guys are the best.

      Darvon--- I agree that both sides need to keep the debate classy and clean. Matter of fact, I would have loved to have seen the mediated talks in D.C. be made public. If the code of silence was going to broken at the end anyways what was the point? Let the public see for themselves. Anything that was way too sensitive to share....just drop the audio on a delayed feed.

      LongSufferingBucsFan--You welcome love. It is hard being in uncertain waters in some ways for everybody. I know this thing has me reading through 52-page lawsuits, watching labor updates that change by the second, and keeping track of accuracy on both sides. Maybe the solution is to do it at Radio Music Hall, and let each individual decide for themselves. I'm still thinking on it though.

      JerryJones--I hear you. Tradition rings strong with fans, and that is where the miscalculation comes on the part of the NFL Players (Trade) Association. In my mind however, it is factual that the owners opted out of the just-expired CBA and rushed their last minute modifications at the "last hour" while leaving players at the federal building for 16 hours at one time---if I am to go on the word of Mawae. But I agree with you that sometimes to get what you want and maintain favor, you have to know where to give. So NFLPA* keep working on a solution that won't alienate the fans who pay the tickets.

      Swami--You are spot on because there are many facets to this prism. I agree with you, thus why I wrote this piece the way I did. In the end, you have to ask the people it most impacts. If it were my dream to play in the NFL (and by the way I could play safety), I would likely want to walk the stage. I'd probably say find another way. However, I am all about standing for a cause too. I have that DNA so this is tough.

      Brauneyz--Right now that player you are speaking of seems to be Patrick Peterson out of LSU. We will see. If the decertified union were to grow more fractured on this issue it would certainly not be a good look. However, in some ways taking this fight to litigation protects them from that though. Take it to a judge who is not worried about the drama. Judge Judy I recommend because she would say "shutup" to the tightest suits in the building.

      Ripper--I completely hear you. I agree with the spirit of your argument. However, I don't know that I care less though because walking the stage impacts just a few prospects, or a minority of the draftees. I was going to include this point in the piece but it had to end somewhere or it would have been as long as Roots. LOL. Anyways 16, 250. Still hard to ask anybody to sacrifice a moment they deserve. But I also believe if you don't stand for something you will fall for anything. The choice though still remains individual for me.

      MsClemons--Now you bring up another valid point I could have included in the piece. You can't build lockout insurance against diminished shared revenue. Very easy to prove this was done when you review past value. Once a union source explained this strategy to me I thought the poking the elephant tactic was brilliant. The fact that special master Burbank ruled in favor of the TV contracts case the first time around was shady in my opinion. What was the value of A 10 years ago? What is the value of B now? By which proportion was B under sold by comparison to A and to B's market value? I mean hello. Pretty easy to see. So on that one, arrogance and miscalculation led the way. I also agree that the players need to speak out more. Part of the reason public sentiment is shifting against them some is because their message doesn't seem consistently forceful at critical times. Letting that "boycott" report hang for 24 hours was a tactical mistake...I understand though they have to be careful to get the message straight in their decertified world.

      Ilovefootball--Tell me about it. I think if the owners opened their books and you saw how much some of these executives and owners make...the pendulum would swing right back to a degree. Players salaries are more known, and it is easier to hate on them.

      NickMykita--Valid Points as well. As soon as the prospects cross the stage...they go right to being locked out as well if an injunction hasn't occurred by that time. Plus, they could risk angering Ray Lewis on the field which I for one never thinks is smart to do. Just saying.

      Anyways love y'all good night. Thanks for hanging with me and my late night responses. I usually get work done when the world is quieter....and...here is to this labor stuff ending soon because I am not a lawyer---Sheesh! I need free agency to start. Hello *Herm Edwards voice*

      Lol! *Drops mic*
    1. darvon's Avatar
      I agree that both sides need to keep the debate classy and clean. Matter of fact, I would have loved to have seen the mediated talks in D.C. be made public. If the code of silence was going to broken at the end anyways what was the point? Let the public see for themselves. Anything that was way too sensitive to share....just drop the audio on a delayed feed.
      You know, I think that is a good idea. We are starting to hear dribs and drabs leaking out of how the owners treated the players in the negotiations and it looks bad, but it didn't get out right away.

      So broadcast the negotiations. Put it on the interweb, all of it. Then when the owners blow off a meeting, they look bad. When they walk out, they look bad. When they start by making an unreasonable position, they look bad. One big advantage that the NFLPA has is that their members are stars and the owners not so much. When Jerry Richardson is bad mouthing Peyton Manning on the Internet live, whose gonna get the heat? Plus the owners aren't used to making nice with the hired help and they are busy in their real businesses, but the players can put in the hours in front of the camera.

      So Broadcast the WHOLE THING, including Brady Suit negotiations. Put them all on camera and let the Stars shine.
    1. Polishguy00's Avatar
      I think that whoever came up with this idea came up with the second worst PR move by the players so far. The worst was being defensive Friday instead of acknowledging any deal on the table. The second is this. Someone said (Peter King?) that if the players do go that it will build animosity from other players. Animosity over participating in something life-changing that only a small percentage of players have been able to do? Is there animosity towards the guys who did get to shake hands with the commish when they were not invited? Are those sacks harder?

      Let the kids enjoy the moment if they want it. Some may get a great feeling in a moment KNOWING that they have completed a life-long dream.

      I understand the "you are being locked out, too" thing, but I think the kids should be able to decide for themselves on this one and not be punished. This non-boycott is just like the "optional" OTAs. This move makes this not optional at all.
    1. Ragar's Avatar
      This is another one of the situations Where the NFLPA is correct, but did a poor job in teh PR department. I completely understand them asking the players not to participate, however hte question for the individual players is "what is the walk across the stage for?" Is it to celebrate your previous accomplishments for your previous coaches, parent's, and family? Or is it to showcase teh NFL Brand? Is it to get you face on to tv so your fans can know how excited (or not excited ELI MANNING FACE!!!) you are? Each player needs to do that individually, and I support any player who chooses to not be there.

      That being said, the NFLPA is boycotting the event. If tehy choose to do something different, it means they will not be at the draft. That by definition is a boycott: To abstain from or act together in abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with as an expression of protest. NFLPA would do a lot better to be honest and state, yes we are boycotting. Here's the reason we are boycotting. then you may disagree with the decision, but you can respect the process behind it.
    1. JTSticks's Avatar
      Does this hurt anyone - NO
      Is it life threatening - NO
      Is it the "Union" trying to show up the NFL - YES
      Is it wrong for them to put a 21-22 year old kid (and do not kid yourself they are still kids) in a position like this - YES
      Has the "Union" already screwed this up - YES, to me it looks petty on their part, especially since they seem to already be in PR hell with how they handled things last weekend compared to the NFL itself.

      If the "Union" wants to do something to show solidarity, let the kids walk at Radio City Music Hall, then invite them to the other venue for additional fanfare with future team mates.
      Plus on the "Union"'s side, you invite more guys that what the NFL does, so that still 1-ups them.
      Besides, it is not like you are going to get this on a competing network.
      Which would do it:
      ESPN-No, they are doing the NFL broadcast
      CBS,FOX, NBC, ABC/ESPN -No, don't want to piss off the NFL
      Who else matters?? Nobody will want to piss off the NFL by broadcasting it, just in case of the future, so then it has to do internet and/or twitter/social media - You're kidding me right?? Not nearly the impact.

      Heck, if they do it this way, maybe the NFL even tells ESPN they can put it on ESPN2

      SIDE NOTE: Remember, the owners only locked the players out after the union walked away from the negotiating table, decertified and had individual players file suit against the NFL. The owners were willing to stay at the table and continue talking and even made an additional offer the union has not said a word about.

      If the owners were losing the PR battle when this all started, I think the players turned the tied against themselves in the last few days.
    1. msclemons's Avatar
      From my perspective this will improve the draft on TV. Less "human interest" interviews, more Mayock analysis. Win/win for me.

      Sort of a tough spot for the kids though. Hopefully this gets smoothed out - these kids had nothing to do with the current mess the NFL and NFLPA have made other than being tossed under the bus by both sides.
    1. brauneyz's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by msclemons View Post
      ...more mayock analysis. Win/win for me.