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NFLPA all-star game will be missing NFL scouts

Don Clemons AP

It’s been a bad few months for the NFLPA.  Yes, the lockout was resolved in a manner that minimized lost games and revenues.  But the final days of the process resulted in several important issues being bungled or ignored, from the agreement to submit to HGH testing to the “elite eight” who’ll be subject to discipline for off-field incidents during the lockout to the absence of a grace period before the return of substance-abuse testing, NFLPA leadership has been stumbling through a minefield of P.R. debacles.

The latest has no direct relationship to the CBA, but it could cause the greatest public embarrassment of all.

Earlier this month, the NFLPA attached its name to an all-star game that will be played on January 21 — and that will feature not only seniors but also underclassmen who have declared their intention to leave school early.

The only problem?  NFL scouts won’t be there.  They won’t be there because NFL scouts are prohibited from attending any practices or games involving underclassmen.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that scouts may not be present for practices or for the game, even after the underclassmen are certified as draft eligible.  (This year, the announcement is expected to come on January 19, only two days before the NFLPA game.)

So while the scouts will be able to watch the game on TV, the experience won’t be nearly as meaningful as, for example, the Senior Bowl, with multiple days of practices closely monitored and scrutinized by NFL scouts.  Given the absence of scouts from practices, the underclassmen have to ask themselves whether it makes sense to assume the injury risk arising from playing in one more non-NFL game.

Why does the NFL steer clear of any events involving underclassmen?  Our guess is that the league wants to avoid involvement in anything that could prompt college football players to sacrifice their eligibility prematurely.  Since players are usually recruited to participate in all-star games, it will be interesting to see whether the NFLPA tries to lure players to participate, and in turn to give up their remaining eligibility.

“We thought about it long and hard and we decided if a player is draft eligible, he will be eligible to play in our game,” NFLPA assistant executive director Clark Gaines told ESPNLosAngeles.com in early November. “Who are we to deny him his livelihood?  If juniors are giving up their eligibility and are past the point of return, they are draft eligible and we will invite them to play in the game.”

But here’s the thing.  The deadline for submitting a petition is January 15, and a 72-hour escape hatch exists.  Thus, the true point of no return comes on January 18, which will coincide with the Wednesday of the practice week before the NFLPA game.

Of course, the point of no return will come earlier than that, if the player hires an agent.  But conditioning an invitation to the NFLPA game on the hiring of an agent would be an extremely unwise decision.

Then again, based on some of the decisions that the NFLPA has made in recent weeks, there’s a good chance it will happen that way.

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12 Responses to “NFLPA all-star game will be missing NFL scouts”
  1. beerndonuts says: Nov 16, 2011 11:11 AM

    What a fascinating article. It’s these nuts and bolts articles on the inner workings of all things NFL that keep PFT a cut above the rest of their competition.

  2. xli2006 says: Nov 16, 2011 11:14 AM

    There is also a chance a ton of high-profile players opt out of a game like this. That may leave the door open for certain players eager to make a name for themselves who are on the fringe.

    If a player’s draft stock is already pretty high, not sure they would benefit from playing in a “Showcase Game”.

    Getting injured in this situation would be a nightmare situation for a potential Draftee.

  3. willyalistentothis says: Nov 16, 2011 11:16 AM

    NFL scouts are made to stay away from underclassman because it is good business. If college coaches thought NFL scouts were luring away their players, the would restrict campus access – no films, no workouts, no senior days, etc.,

  4. 700levelvet says: Nov 16, 2011 11:18 AM

    It seems to me…….If you are talented enough to play in the NFL, you will play in the NFL. And make plenty of money…..

  5. joetoronto says: Nov 16, 2011 11:24 AM

    Aren’t unions great?

  6. lottsmissingfinger says: Nov 16, 2011 11:31 AM

    More than a few highly ranked seniors have played in the Senior Bowl. My favorite story:

    Mike Nolan and his SF staff were coaching the South when Patrick Willis was a senior. His position coach that week? Mike Singletary who came to the conclusion that Willis would not amount to much in the NFL. Luckily the GM and scouts ignored him and SF drafted him with the 12th overall pick.

    If only they had done same when Singletary, as HC, insisted on using a 2nd round pick on Taylor Mays.

  7. whathappenedtovox says: Nov 16, 2011 11:48 AM

    I see no embarrassment potential here at all, and I think something is being made out of absolutely nothing here.

    Sure, scouts and coaches will lose the aspect of seeing how these kids practice, but they’ll still have the game tape to watch.

    By the way, scouts can’t watch kids practice at say… Notre Dame, or LSU, or Alabama, right? Aren’t college players kinda risking injury by playing in regular season practices/games for their schools?

    If a kid wants to go out, compete, and improve his draft status, then good for him. All I know is that if it’s on TV, I’ll probably watch it.

  8. rajbais says: Nov 16, 2011 11:53 AM

    Great job by DeMaurice Smith, again!!!

    Screwing up when it matters is his game!!!

  9. mrcosio says: Nov 16, 2011 12:47 PM

    I wonder if Tom Flores (who’s supposed to be one of the coaches for this game) would be giving any tips to the Raiders about any of the players? He’s still close to the organization

  10. radrhatr says: Nov 16, 2011 1:25 PM

    This is gonna go over like the NFLPA’s draft special.

    Let’s name it “The Battle For Mr Irrelevant”.

  11. tedmurph says: Nov 16, 2011 2:16 PM

    I have no problem with keeping scouts away from underclassmen, it is good business. Keeping NFL scouts away from this game and week of practice not only hurts the seniors, but doesn’t help the underclassmen either. Why let them play?. What’s the upside?

  12. godofwine330 says: Nov 16, 2011 2:38 PM

    (Morgan Freeman Narrates)

    I wish I could tell you that the draftees played the good game, and the Injury Bug let him be. I wish I could tell you that – but Exhibition Football is no fairy-tale world. Robert Edwards never said who did it, but we all knew. Things went on like that for awhile – Exhibition Football consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Players would show up with fresh bruises. The Injury Bug kept at them – sometimes he was able to fight ‘em off, sometimes not.

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