In this upside down NFL, we know one thing for certain: There will be a draft for the next three nights.
The future of the NFL Draft is a little less certain. I attended the NFLPA* draft event Thursday afternoon in Times Square and asked NFLPA* spokesman George Atallah about the future of the draft.
“We’ve agreed to a draft for the last 20 years. To suggest something like Jeffrey Kessler is going to ruin Christmas sounds a little bit dramatic. We’re looking for long-term solutions,” Atallah said.
I then asked him if he was confident enough to tell fans there would be a draft in 2012.
“I’m confident given where we are now that there’s going to be football. I can’t speak on behalf on the class of players. I can only tell you from the history of our game, that the draft has been the cornerstone of what the NFL is about,” he responded before using his excellent line once again:
“Jeffrey Kessler is not going to ruin Christmas.”
(While it was a great line, it’s telling he couldn’t guarantee there would be a draft yet.)
As Florio pointed out to me during our dorky train ride Thursday with our laptops open, the NFLPA* wouldn’t necessarily be the ones that would have to attack the legitimacy of the draft in the future. Without a collective bargaining agreement and antitrust protection, a player like cornerback Janoris Jenkins could attack the legitimacy of the draft, making the case he should just go to the highest bidder.
“Any uncertainty and chaos is a result of the owners’ own actions,” Atallah said. “So all of the things that have been hyperbolized and brought up as theories to what possibly may happen, those are all things that could have easily been avoided if the other side was willing to fight as hard as we are for a game.”
NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith said more than once on Thursday that “football is back.” But it’s not that simple. Even if the NFL is forced to re-open their doors soon, which all fans should be hoping for, there are a lot of strange things that could happen until a new CBA is worked out.
In the end, the players and owners will still need to work out their differences in a new deal to get things back to normal.