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League denies effort to keep rookies from NFLPA* draft events

Top 2010 NFL Draft prospects appear atop the Marquee of Radio City Music Hall for photo call in New York Reuters

From Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com comes a report that the NFL is trying to discourage incoming rookies from attending the events organized by the NFLPA* during draft week — even though the events do not conflict with the 2011 NFL draft.

Freeman says that “team scouts, personnel men and assistant coaches are informing agents that their draftees should stay away” from the NFLPA* events.  Freeman reports that the effort has “infuriated” several agents, and that an unnamed NFL.com draft analyst “has contacted multiple draft prospects and told them not to attend.”

The unnamed NFL.com draft analyst, according to Freeman, “has called prospects, in some cases, six and seven times, telling them that if they attended the NFLPA[*] event they would not be allowed to attend the NFL Draft and walk on stage with Commissioner Roger Goodell.”

Ugh.

The threat, if it was made, seems to be idle.  Surely, the NFL wouldn’t yank the rug from under players who already have accepted invitations to attend the draft.  Still, if these efforts have been occurring, it’s as troubling as the previous effort by the players to discourage players from attending the draft.

It’s actually even more troubling, since the NFLPA* had the courage to articulate their position publicly.

That said, the league denies that any such efforts have been made.

“The bottom line is that the league is NOT trying to discourage players from attending NFLPA events,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told PFT via e-mail. “If someone has specific information to the contrary, we would be interested in knowing about it.

“A lead draft analyst for NFL.com that has contacted multiple draft prospects is Gil Brandt,” Aiello added.  “He contacts them every year in helping us arrange to invite the top prospects to New York.  Gil says he has NOT told any of the invited prospects that they should not attend the NFLPA draft events, which are on the day of the first round and after Thursday night (not prior to the draft).  Gil also said he never told any of the players they would not be allowed to attend the draft and walk on stage with the commissioner, as the story claims.”

Freeman stands by his report.  “More than a few agents were furious about the pressure being put on the kids not to attend and no matter what the league says, it was happening,” Freeman told PFT via e-mail.

Freeman also addressed his decision not to name the NFL.com draft analyst who supposedly was contacting the players.  Freeman told us that he “wasn’t sure about [the] fairness of naming the person though I was certain of the accuracy of the information.”

In our view, the fair thing to do would have been to give the person (presumably Brandt) a chance to respond, and then to go with the story, naming his name.  Especially if Freeman was and is certain of the accuracy of the information.

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28 Responses to “League denies effort to keep rookies from NFLPA* draft events”
  1. chapnastier says: Apr 12, 2011 1:33 PM

    Seems like the agents are playing this like a fiddle. It would be in their interest to do all they can to avert a rookie pay scale. I cry foul here.

  2. duanethomas says: Apr 12, 2011 1:37 PM

    Great PR by The NFL/owners. Slop jar carriers, come out and defend this behavior. Having Uncle Junior aka Gil Brandt call these kids and giving them the old offer they can’t refuse. “Come to our event only, then we will lock you out afterward”…….Surreal.

  3. thephantomstranger says: Apr 12, 2011 1:43 PM

    I’m no bobo for the owners, but this has the ring of untruth to it. Why would the owners care if draftees attend these other events?

  4. ruckinfidiculous says: Apr 12, 2011 1:47 PM

    This whole situation is becoming worse than a bunch of middle school girls trying to get the new girl in school to join their clique.

  5. thelockoutbeard says: Apr 12, 2011 1:48 PM

    The Lockout continues! As the lockout grows on so does my beard! I am growing a lockout beard and am not shaving until they start playing! Please follow me on twitter @TheLockoutBeard

    -The Lockout Beard-

  6. rpiotr01 says: Apr 12, 2011 1:55 PM

    “I’m going to take the word of slimebag agents that a guy who writes about the draft for NFL.com is an official spokesman for Roger Goodell, and that this same person has been saying all these unpleasant things, and that these things are therefore official league policy. I choose to believe this rather than common sense.”

    — Mike Freeman

  7. src3346 says: Apr 12, 2011 1:59 PM

    Freeman, If you are quoting someone and making this tye of accusation You should divulge the name. The league says they would like to know. I will wait with baited breath to hear this riveting life changing information.

  8. northeastern31 says: Apr 12, 2011 2:03 PM

    the NFL draft is so anticipated by us fans and I would rather have them attentd the draft than an alternate event….

    BUT! In the end it will not really matter to me…as long as my team picks up a good player I will be happy.

  9. jdvallee says: Apr 12, 2011 2:04 PM

    Maybe I’m just ignorant, but this doesn’t “sound” true to me. Why on earth would the NFL have Brandt (or anyone else for that matter) tell draftee to avoid any NFLPA* functions? The NFL knows the PR game well enough to know the fallout from this would be a nightmare for them. Besides, the NFLPA* events are schedule to not conflict with the draft. I smell a rat on this report…..

  10. realitypolice says: Apr 12, 2011 2:04 PM

    chapnastier says:
    Apr 12, 2011 1:33 PM
    Seems like the agents are playing this like a fiddle. It would be in their interest to do all they can to avert a rookie pay scale. I cry foul here.
    ===================

    If the players came out and said the sky was blue, you would say it was a ploy by them to avoid playing night games.

  11. realitypolice says: Apr 12, 2011 2:05 PM

    thelockoutbeard says:
    Apr 12, 2011 1:48 PM
    The Lockout continues! As the lockout grows on so does my beard! I am growing a lockout beard and am not shaving until they start playing! Please follow me on twitter @TheLockoutBeard

    -The Lockout Beard-
    ====================

    Well, considering they are not even scheduled to start playing until late August, that will be some beard you’ll be sporting.

  12. commoncents says: Apr 12, 2011 2:09 PM

    And this report came from where, the NFLPA, the ones who were trying HARD to get players NOT to go to the NFL draft?? The NFLPA is a bunch of cry baby idiots.

  13. bukes111 says: Apr 12, 2011 2:20 PM

    Both sides, leave the kids alone. The day after the draft, they are fair game.

  14. radrhatr says: Apr 12, 2011 2:20 PM

    sounds like another feeble attempt to make the owners look bad.

    This is EXACTLY what the NFLPA tried to do to the kids, before it blew up in their face. Now, they’re trying to turn it on the owners.

  15. hobartbaker says: Apr 12, 2011 2:21 PM

    Freeman is a lying turd. You don’t need to bring in Columbo to figure that out.

  16. bluepike says: Apr 12, 2011 2:45 PM

    Nobody in their right mind would ever believe this story. However, it is something that De Smith would dream-up to make the owners look bad. Okay De Smith – once again – get outta the sandbox!

  17. negatorium says: Apr 12, 2011 2:49 PM

    Wasn’t Freeman fired by a paper in Indy for fabricating a story? Just saying, either the guy’s learned nothing at all, or he’s telling the truth as best as he knows it.

  18. *Legion* says: Apr 12, 2011 2:54 PM

    To be fair to both sides, Gil Brandt is *really* old.

  19. hobartbaker says: Apr 12, 2011 3:01 PM

    Soon we’re gonna track down “thelockoutbeard” and shave him smooth as a newborn.

  20. viguy007 says: Apr 12, 2011 3:06 PM

    No matter who is right in this war between the NFL and the players, both sides do not have any concern for us, the fans. They are killing the fan interest that produces ticket and merchandise sales, but most importantly the television audience they sell to advertisers. The NFL is expected to enter into TV contracts worth 46 Billion dollars as soon as the next CBA is signed. The NFL just assumes we will once again slip back into old modes of behavior, and they have no fear we will not. Let’s just put some fear in them.

    The NFL will be watching their draft very closely for any signs of slippage in its viewing audience. Remember last year, when they so proudly announced that the television ratings had increased by 18%, it was a sign that the NFL reached new levels of popularity. Now imagine how they would react if the rating declined by 50%. And if you intend to go to the draft in person, don’t go, let the auditorium be half filled. Support your fellow fans by not acting like a fan. You can watch the results of the Draft on your late night sports report, and these blogs will be filled chatter about the selections. You will know who they are, you will lose nothing, but maybe gain a season. Send a message that the sleeping giant is starting to awaken, and he can not be taken for granted, or ignored any longer. This is only the first step.

    Pass this message on, post it to your Facebook page and other blogs, Tweet “Join Fan Boycott of NFL Draft on TV”. Spread the word,

  21. chatham10 says: Apr 12, 2011 3:08 PM

    The union says that the players should not go and shake the hand of the man who is locking them out, then why would the players want to shake the hand of the union which is trying to place a salary cap on them. I do not like to use the word idiot to anyone but good God cannot some of these people think for themselves.

  22. zaggs says: Apr 12, 2011 3:27 PM

    “It’s actually even more troubling, since the NFLPA* had the courage to articulate their position publicly.”

    Um, since the players position was to resort to physical intimidation, no.

  23. 3octaveFart says: Apr 12, 2011 3:48 PM

    Just another day at PFT.

    – Write an article.
    – An hour later, write another refuting the first.
    – Always claim “unnamed sources”.

    Lather.
    Rinse.
    Repeat. Ad nauseum.

  24. endzonezombie says: Apr 12, 2011 3:55 PM

    “In our view, the fair thing to do would have been to give the person (presumably Brandt) a chance to respond, and then to go with the story, naming his name.”

    Did PFT bother to contact Aaron Rogers before unloading on him for supposedly walking by a cancer patient? The media often takes shortcuts in its haste for a scoop.

  25. hystoracle says: Apr 12, 2011 4:26 PM

    Just the latest hand full of Spaghetti thrown against the wall by a “reporter.”

  26. thefiesty1 says: Apr 12, 2011 4:52 PM

    This is just another smokescreen by the players’ lawyers.

  27. santolonius says: Apr 12, 2011 5:23 PM

    personally, i am pulling for a television debacle on draft night. i want everything to go wrong. i want goodell, the players, the teams, espn, everyone under the sun to look out of sorts, unprofessional, unrehersed, and juvenile. i wants the fans to throw a noisy and unprecedented fit. they should boo so long and loud that guards have to escort them from the building. i want everybody associated with pro football to feel true and utter embarrassment, so they will begin to see themselves as something other than these teflon untouchables with “the greatest sports product in the world.” they need to feel the sting of something great slipping away. they need to squirm.

  28. easyeddie says: Apr 12, 2011 9:42 PM

    Mike Freeman was fired from the Indianapolis Star for claiming he earned a degree from the University of Delaware.
    He’s also a serial liar and a crap journalist.
    I wouldn’t believe anything he writes.

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