Should Rookies Boycott the 2011 NFL Draft by Staying Home?
While players and fans find themselves wondering whether or not there will be football in the fall, soon-to-be rookies are faced with a difficult decision that needs to be made in just over a month. The NFL Players Association has decertified, and as of now there is no collective bargaining agreement in the NFL. The owners have locked players out of team facilities. The players do not want to do the owners any favors or help them make extra money. For that reason, the player’s union has asked that incoming rookies boycott the NFL Draft in New York and stay home on draft day.
Fans may not realize it, but this is one of the most difficult decisions rookies will ever have to make during their NFL careers. The NFL Draft represents the most exciting three days of a young football player’s life. If you are expected to be a first-round pick, hearing Roger Goodell call your name at Radio City Music Hall and hand you an NFL jersey is something you have probably dreamed about since Pop Warner. Oh well.
My advice to rookies: stay home. The decision will be brutal for anyone who had their heart set on attending the draft. Any college athlete who envisioned himself putting on an NFL team’s hat and holding up a No. 1 jersey while cameras flashed all around him can forget about it. Would the rookies rather have an owner who might be a little miffed they refused to attend an NFL event, or a locker room full of guys who feel like they aren’t “one of them”? The former is any easy choice.
Current players have openly admitted on talk radio shows that they would feel a little differently toward an incoming rookie who attended the draft versus one who fulfilled the union’s request and boycotted it. Unions are built on the concept of strength in numbers. If you disagree with the union, you’re against the union. The current labor situation is unfortunate for all of those involved, but the rookies are going to have to suck it up. Unless, of course, gaining the respect of their future teammates is not a priority.