On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the NFLPA* plans to instruct incoming rookies invited to Radio City Music Hall to not attend the 2011 NFL draft.
In the wake of sharp criticism from the media and the public, the NFLPA* has clarified its position. It’s not an order, it’s a recommendation.
As we pointed out yesterday, it can’t be an order. Even if the NFLPA* were still the NFLPA, the incoming rookies aren’t members of the union until they’re drafted. And even if the NFLPA* were still the NFLPA and the NFLPA tried to tell the rookies to leave the venue the instant their names are called, the NFLPA never had the authority to impose such demands on the free will of its membership.
Apparently, the NFLPA* has plans for an alternative draft event in Midtown Manhattan. Schefter’s updated report explains that the NFLPA* intends to give the drafted players “the same experience down the street.” So look for the NFLPA* to rent out a large room at, say, the Marriot Marquis for its own version of the draft, during which NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith would supplant Commissioner Roger Goodell as the purveyor of the man hugs.
Speaking of the man hugs, agent Drew Rosenhaus made a compelling point Monday night on Twitter. “The NFL Draft is an incredibly popular event but the players being drafted are locked out, too,” Rosenhaus said. “The players may be in New York but I can’t see how they can be on TV and give a big hug to a person that is partly responsible for not letting them play.”
The NFL intends to proceed with its usual approach. “We plan to invite the 15-20 top prospects and their families to New York as we normally do for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And, as always, it is the decision of the players and their families as to whether they attend,” league spokesman Greg Aiello told Schefter.
Either way, things will get very interesting on April 28. Look for high-profile players to picket outside Radio City Music Hall, followed by a parade to the place where the alternative event conducted by the NFLPA* will be held.
And Rosenthal and I will be in the middle of it all, with Chad Ochocinco undoubtedly vowing once again to whoop our asses.