The NFLPA* reportedly has recommended that incoming rookies not attend the NFL Draft.
It’s a concept that doesn’t appear too popular with NFL fans. Or one top-ranked rookie.
“I heard about that. No one has contacted me to go to New York or not go to New York. I would like to go if possible. That’s what you play football for,” LSU cornerback Peterson told Aaron Wilson of NFP via NFLLabor.com.
“That’s a big moment to go up there and shake the commissioner’s hand and get that jersey and hat. It means a lot. I definitely want to go and no one has told me not to go. So, we’ll see what happens.”
The fact the NFL is trumpeting this story is almost as noteworthy as Peterson’s comments. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy linked to the story and had a series of other tweets with the tongue-in-cheek hashtag: #LetThemHug. (Complete with the official #LetThemHug video.)
The NFL realizes this is a wedge issue. It could wedge current players from incoming rookies; Peterson’s views are pretty clear. And it will definitely wedge players from fans.
Taking a stand on the draft is within the rights of the players, but that doesn’t mean it is in their best interest. Making a stand here is not seeing the forest for the trees.
Keeping players away from New York won’t really hurt the owners; it may help them. It will only piss off fans and potentially diminish the experience of guys like Peterson.
For many fans, the draft is the next closest thing to the Super Bowl on the entire NFL calendar. Disrupting the draft, however minor, is just another sign the players and the owners say they care about the fans, but they could really care less.