Union, agents consider boycott of combine or draft

In July we reported that the players’ union and player agents were considering a boycott of the NFL draft and pre-draft activities because of the lack of progress toward a new labor deal. Fast forward seven months, and there’s still no labor deal — and still talk of a boycott.

NFL Network reported today that union officials and player agents are discussing withholding players from the Scouting Combine and urging players not to attend the NFL Draft. According to the report, NFL Players’ Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has talked to agents about telling their clients to skip the combine in Indianapolis and the draft at Radio City Music Hall.

A boycott of the combine wouldn’t make much sense. For one thing, the combine is in February, when there’s still time to get a new deal done before the current deal expires. Any time spent organizing a boycott rather than focusing on negotiating a new deal would fly in the face of the union’s claims that they want to get a deal done. Furthermore, it wouldn’t make much sense for prospective players (who aren’t even in the union yet) to sacrifice an opportunity to prove themselves to NFL teams.

However, if the NFL locks the players out, and if the lockout is still going on in late April when the draft takes place, it’s possible that some players might choose to show solidarity for the union they’re about to join and skip the draft. On the other hand, the handful of players the NFL invites to the draft may be worried that refusing the invitation could cause them to be labeled as prima donnas and make their draft stock drop with the teams selecting high in the first round.

So this year’s prospective draft picks might not be willing to go along with this idea. Unless the union manages to get all the agents for all the top prospects on board, and the agents manage to get all their clients on board — in which case the biggest event of the NFL offseason would lose a lot of its drawing power.

63 responses to “Union, agents consider boycott of combine or draft

  1. The combine kids would not be that stupid to waste an oppurtunity to impress in this job interview.

  2. It would be beyond unfair to throw a 22 year old kid into this disaster.

    How many of these guys got the opportunity to sit in New York and get their jersey handed to them.

    Don’t take that moment away from a kid, no matter how much you hate how much he’ll make.

  3. Again, what is with the bonehead moves by the union. You are only hurting yourself if you boycott this things. They act like this is some leverage over the NFL – it’s not. The combine and the draft will take place whether the players or their agents participate. If you don’t show up, you are only guaranteeing a higher draft pick and hence less money.

    It this truly in the best interests of the players? It is the same as telling a potential employee to skip his interview – like that will somehow hurt the employer.

  4. Note that if a bunch of people are thinking about skipping the combine, it suddenly becomes in every individual’s interest to defect, i.e., to attend the draft anyway. This allows the defector to increase his value substantially compared to people who have boycotted the combine.

    In fact, it’s irrational for any individual to trust that others will skip the combine, since doing so is against their best interest. This implies even more strongly that it’s in the first person’s interest to attend the combine.

    In other words, no one is boycotting the combine, because no one is willing to risk being the only one who doesn’t defect and as a result gets truly screwed.

  5. The NFL Draft would lose drawing power if the top prospects aren’t in attendance? I highly doubt many people actually care if they are present or not. Another stupid idea by the NFLPA.

  6. “in which case the biggest event of the NFL offseason would lose a lot of its drawing power.”

    Wait, What? You mean to tell me people watch the draft to see 5-15 dudes holding up jerseys?

    This is moronic… both the idea that the draft loses any appeal w/o players present and the notion that the players staying away is any sort of meaningful leverage.

    A universal combine boycott might help the union a bit but is a terrible idea for the 250 guys trying to get drafted who aren’t in the union and rate to get screwed by the new deal anyhow… which is to say, not happening.

  7. I hope they boycott the draft. Maybe then it would create more suspense over who is picked. Now, the player finds out 10 seconds before the pick is announced which ruins the mystery over who will be picked. Keep it in your pants until the commissioner speaks, I say.

  8. Yeah it sure makes sense for player agents who have been shelling out millions of dollars to get their clients ready for the Combine to advise them not to attend. Good luck with that one Do!Maurice.

  9. I hate unions. You are choosing to go to the nfl and play football for millions. Nobody forces this move. Suck it up, play for the going rate or find a new profession. Simple as that.

    I wish accounting had a union so me and all my CPA buddies could strike and not file anyone’s returns until we made 200% more per filed return. Wouldn’t America love that? Unions crap in the face of capitalism and slow down America’s prosperity, productivity and efficiency.

    btw, Dan Snyder still sucks.

  10. Please quit referring to 22 year old men as kids. They are grown adults. Calling them kids is coddling them and acting like they do not have the ability to make adult decision. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be playing NFL football anyway.

    They can make whatever decision is in their best interest. They are not in the union until they are under contract. If walking across the stage is important to them, they are men and can make the decision to attend. I would.

  11. Feel free to boycott the combine, but undrafted free agents don’t make anything either. There’s too many kids willing to play the game for a boycott to work.

  12. To me the whole idea sounds really freaking stupid top to bottom but I couldn’t care less if the few players the NFL invites to the draft are there or not — I’ve never given a crap about them being there anyway — I’ve been watching the draft since it’s been on to see where the players are picked and especially to see where my team takes them and who they take — So — Whatever!!!

  13. Skipping the combine would just be stupid for agents and their clients. Skipping the combine would negatively effect a player’s draft stock and thus both the agent and player’s ultimate contract value. Would an agent really advise a potential #1 draft pick not to show and risk losing that huge payday (especially since this is likely the last year of the big #1 pick big pay days)? While the dollars aren’t the same but its even more crucial for the mid-tier and borderline players who risk not getting drafted at all. Anyway, a boycott of the combine is not happening (at least not in any meaningful numbers).

    As for skipping the draft? Well, its not as crucial for the players and agents to be at the draft, because their draft stock is already set at that point. However, the lack of visibility will hurt the player’s potential for endorsements. If you have the chance to increase your visibility why would you pass it up? Also, it really wouldn’t affect the league much if players skipped the draft, however it would thoroughly upset ESPN which is broadcasting it. Not sure the union wants to make an enemy of ESPN, the coverage of the NFL/NFLPA might start to get awfully onesided.

    As I side in post yesterday, the union needs to give up all these sideshow PR battles (because they are losers anyway) and spend the time negotiating the best deal they can. The union needs to accept the fact that the leverage is mostly on the owners side and negotiate with that mind. The one piece of leverage the union has over the league is “uncertainty”. The “uncertainty” of what happens after a lockout/strike and what permanent damage is done. Once they allow this to get to a lockout, the union loses that leverage and owners have all incentive in the world to go for broke. The other thing about the uncertainty card is that if the league ends up suffering from lingering effects of a lockout, the players will suffer those effects as well, so there is a twofold advantage to the union getting a deal done a.s.a.p.

  14. You have got to be kidding me! Boycotting the Combine when a player is not even a member of the union yet?!? Gimme a break! There is NO WAY any agent is going to tell his client to skip the Combine or Draft. That i career suicide for the agent!

    While both the owners and players have very valid points, the leverage IS and will ALWAYS lean in favor of the owners! For every person out there who is an employee (in the private sector) in a very lucrative industry, he must always know and never forget, he is still an employee and always replaceable. The product my dip for a moment, but will eventually catch back up and be of quality.

    Joe Montana, Barry Sanders, Dieon Sanders, Joe Namath, and host of many others were great back in the day, now they are just former players, and the game has continued to go on, and new players have replaced those players…I’m just sayin’.

  15. lol… as if the Players Union hasn’t already screwed it up enough for the players currently in the NFL, they also plan to screw up the college players who hope to get into the NFL this year

  16. Maybe the players should go play in another league where they pay millions of dollars…oh, wait, there isn’t one. F’n unions.

  17. If the agents are dumb enough to jump off a cliff along with De and the NFLPA, here is what potential draft picks should do:

    1st – Dump your dumb ass agent

    2nd – Work out at the combine, hopefully get drafted.

    3rd – Become one of the first seven new members of your new NFL team.

    4th – Get Paid, regardess of what happens to the NFLPA.

  18. Keep in mind it’s a relatively weak draft, no consensus #1 guy, names sliding all over most mock drafts. In that environment asking non-member draftees to skip anything the teams want will endanger their status, and that’s unfair, especially since the union will eventually concede a rookie salary cap, screwing these guys anyway?

  19. Any agent that recommends his client does not cooperate with the league is failing in his fiduciary duty to his client. Players awaiting the draft are not yet union members, and withholding their clients from these activities is likely to effect where they are drafted and the opportunity for the highest possible slot to be picked in.

    Of course the collection of slimebags that the agents are they rarely give a damn about their clients or their duty to them.

  20. tmb33 said Please quit referring to 22 year old men as kids. They are grown adults. Calling them kids is coddling them and acting like they do not have the ability to make adult decision. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be playing NFL football anyway.

    They can make whatever decision is in their best interest. They are not in the union until they are under contract.

    Then they become unable to make independant thought and must follow the dictums provided by DeMaurice Smith. Thus rendering them incapable of making their own adult decisions. But at least then they can play in the NFL.

    This union is handling this in a typically union way…with no consideration for its members while telling them that their best interest is their only consideration. DeMaurice gets weathly while the fan gets screwed out of football and the players get hosed out of a season, for some, their last.

    Best interests my ass.

  21. Boycott the draft… absolutely, being in the building isn’t going to make you go higher or lower. The only reason that they have players there in the first place is so they can show human drama on TV and so the two networks covering the draft have something to talk about. Heaven forbid ESPN has to talk about a player in terms of his tape rather than showing him in the green room or his own living room.

    Boycotting the Combine though? Beyond stupid. That will get you drafted lower. I don’t think the union can, in good conscience, suggest that members and potential members act in a way that is contrary to their own personal interests.

  22. Unions crap in the face of capitalism and slow down America’s prosperity, productivity and efficiency.

    Except that its because of the union that the players are paid as well as they are. Its the union which negotiated the CBA, which has paid off handsomely for the players.

    I wish accounting had a union so me and all my CPA buddies could strike and not file anyone’s returns until we made 200% more per filed return. Wouldn’t America love that?

    Go ahead, do what you think is right for you. Personally I file my own return so I don’t give a damn. But the owners can’t make their own NFL without players. So there’s a bit more leverage in this situation.

    Also, if some of your clients decided to show up and demand that you do extra paperwork and at the same time they were going to pay you less than they had previously agreed, I bet you would be pissed and refuse to do it. Same situation here.

  23. Ahh yes the boycott. The one true measure of the immature in life.

    If you’re on the fence regarding who to support in any dispute, just wait till one side starts with the boycott nonsense. Then support the other side.

    Why would anyone support the NFLPA at this point? If there was any question of what they’re like to deal with, now we know, when the boycott childishness starts. Kraft was right, stop the lawyering, the grandstanding, and go to work or hire leadership that can act mature instead of acting like it’s “war”.

  24. It’s like nails on a chalkboard every time I hear another stupid take coming out of D Smith’s mouth. I guess that’s what you get for hiring a lawyer/politician wannabe to do your bidding instead of a former player or someone who at least was involved with the league.

    Gene Upshaw was unfairly criticized throughout his tenure. May he RIP and I bet every player out there would gladly have him back.

  25. the union should boycott, these billionaire owners have a great thing going unlike most American companies yet they want more. Sure any business wants to grow, but you have to know when you have a good thing sometimes & share with your employees. This is a microcosm of whats wrong with America today. The suits wanting more & Joe 6 packs getting f’d. The owners have too good of a thing going, they are obviously bluffing…..call their bluff union….Im sure they wont P on the golden billion dollar goose…

  26. I’ll tell you who definitely would miss the draftees’ presence… Roger Goodell. All those hugs he got last spring, it’s the only time future NFL athletes give the commish some love, before they discover the ugly truth: the league views them as disposable heroes.


  27. it’s pretty simple. the union has to hit the NFL where it counts – the wallet. the combine and the draft are the last two money makers the owners have before the lockout. no players, no big time money from advertisers and networks covering those events will try to recover their money for breach of contract.

  28. I don’t think any of us should have one iota of sympathy for the union or the owners here.

    The owners are billionares. They each get a billion dollars every year right out of the gate, and then the revenue sharing process begins giving them even more. Yet they have the audacity to try to force joe public to pay taxes in order to build new stadiums that the owners will use to make even more money. They threaten entire regions with the loss of their team if they don’t pay for it. Not cool at all. If they were for the fans as they claim, they would build the stadiums on their own dime and keep ticket prices reasonable. Now they are squabbling with the players over a few million. So clearly the owners are more than willing to stick it to whoever they can to make a few extra bucks, and all of the PR people they can hire with their billions isn’t going to change that fact.

    On the other hand, the players are getting paid millions of dollars to play a game that most men would willingly play for free if given a chance. Sure, the rest of us probably wouldn’t play as well as the existing players, but does that really matter? It’s a game. It’s for entertainment. The players should be glad to be getting the money they are getting. The owners could replace them all tomorrow with slightly less talented players who would all be greatful for the opportunity… and who knows, maybe the games would be more interesting that way.

    So I think both sides should just stop all of the whining, posturing and finger pointing. Neither side is right, both sides are wrong, and the only way they are going to do right in the eyes of the fans is to get a deal done, shut their fat pie holes, and be thankful that we’re all still willing to watch this game. Afterall, there is a lot of other sports out there, including hockey, area football, college football and soccer.

  29. While I support the players against the owners I find the idea of an agent encouraging a player to skip the combine or the draft very disturbing. It simply is a conflict of interest.

    In any fiduciary relationship the agent has a duty to represent the interests of the player not himself. The players best interest depending on his situation might be to go to the combine and certainly would be to go to the draft. Especially in times like this where a team may drop a player inj the draft of they thick he has strong union leanings.

    Its in the agents long term best interest that the players boycott. A lawyer would be sanctioned or disbarred for such an action. I find it very troubling to see advice like this given.

  30. If the owners and the players decide to drag this out and skip next season, they’ll have earned the pox it brings on their houses.

    At a certain point, fans get sick of billionaires fighting with millionaires. That’s even more of an issue with so many people out of work.

  31. If were supposed to sorry for this so called “BS working man’s union” then they should of had the balls to boycott the Superbowl

    NO balls, No brains , No unity.

    how could you have such differences in salaries and have any unity amongst the players.

    Believe me, I’m not taking the owners side at all. Some of which are the biggest scumbags. (Mara,Tish,Johnson,Jones)

    Look the only people who get screwed in all this is the fans and vendor’s who work the stadiums.

  32. Why is anyone surprised? De Smith’s job is to divide and be destructive. I was on the players side until this bumbling idiot comes out with this boycott stuff. Players, you need to contact your representative and get rid of this left wing, politician type lawyer.

  33. Correct me if I’m wrong here but, as of yet undrafted players are not members of the Players Union. Why would it make sense for a non union member to boycott anything?

  34. What a bunch of maroons. Sit your self serving butts down at the bargaining table and stop all the 3 year old baby games. BOTH SIDES. IF you spend a few weeks in earnest hard negatiations and can’t get it done THEN you can say we tried but couldn’t come up a plan and go from there. Stupid stupid stupid stupid people.

    DeIdiot is for the union what Matt Millen was for the Lions. Total incompetent and leading them down the wrong path.

    And seriously…you think people are watching the draft to see a bunch of potential draft picks sit a table?!

  35. DeMaurice Smith is a DeMoron. I really think he has some political agenda or something. He is just so outrageous and likes hearing his name in the media.

    If he isn’t careful the owners wont lock the players out and they will be forced to either strike or bow to the current system.

    Im already scouting replacement players for Fantasy Football just in case…

  36. Whether you are more sympathetic to the players or the owners, this just doesn’t make sense….If I’m an agent, my job is to get my client drafted as highly as possible, right ?? Well nearly every team puts a lot of stock in what happens at the Combine…Not that it’s the only options they have and there is a lot more than just the Combine that goes into deciding who to take in the draft, but there are samples every year of how a guy’s stock dropped or gained at the Combine. Agents, here’s a tip…get your client the most publicity you can…at the Combine…

    The pending labor talks don’t have anything to do with these guys…yet, and as I said, the agent’s job is to get his guy picked a notch higher….

  37. 1. What a stupid idea. Boycott the draft? As the guy above said – good. now we have some suspense of who gets drafted. Boycott the combine? Last I checked non-union members are non-union members. If I were a draft eligible player, I’d ask D-Smith if they’ll guarantee me a salary for sitting out? What a joke. Maybe they should next tell NCAA players to boycott spring practices “out of solidarity” with their future teammates and union leadership. Hell, should Pop Warner kids sit out too? Sounds like the Union wants these non-union members to strike on the union’s behalf. This union is a joke.

    2. The NFL is coming dangerously close to losing my interest. I’m a 33 y/o white male, which places me in the NFL’s key demographic. And ya wanna know what? I actually like waking up saturday mornings to watch English Premiere League games. And I never grew up playing soccer or watching soccer. Dont really care about soccer. Except that these games are fun to watch and gives me something to watch when i wake up in the morning. And frankly, if one of these games was on up against a low level NFL game, I’d probably watch the EPL game. EGATS! i’m serious about that, too.

  38. How about this? Why doesn’t the union start there own league? They can pay the players as much money as they want. The league can find replacement players and pay them whatever they want. Let’s see which league lasts longer. If the union doesn’t like the rules at work, start your own business so you can make the rules that you like.

  39. Dee Smith is on the ultimate power trip and he doesn’t want it to stop. There is no way he will agree to any deal before September unless the players grab him around the throat. Remember, Dee already has lots of money. This is all about power and fame. What an ass.

  40. So Goodell thinks everyone wants an 18 game season, and Smith thinks that players (who aren’t currently in the NFLPA) should stage boycotts.

    It’s frustrating that the fate of the sport we all love is in the hands of these two pig-headed idiots.

    I honestly think if they put a group of players and a group of owners in a room they could work out a deal that everyone can live with in a day. Too many people are trying to “win”, which is a recipe for a never-ending negotiation.

  41. Dump the unions. Unions are on their way out anyway. Less and less union members every year. Ask yourself why? Jesse and Al are resting their mouths.

  42. Andrew Luck is looking smarter by the second. He’ll definitely be playing meaningful football in September.

  43. 1) Agents folloing the union plan: Could happen if money crosses the table, or perhaps the union threatens decertification of any agent not going along with their plan. If they do the latter, it probably is illegal and falls under racketeering laws.

    2) The NCAA should remove any eligibility of any player with eligibility left who boycotts the combine as they clearly have an agent, declared or not.

    3) At the minimum, a boycott of the combine would be legally actionable by the owners. The CBA is in effect and the union has no right to do so. Again, this could fall into the racketeering laws.

  44. A power-hungry millionaire named DeMaurice Smith trying to flex his authoritative muscle against 32 billionaires? And he’s asking undrafted young men to give up their chances to make millions in an effort to prove how powerful he is? And the agents, whose income depends on the tariff charged to these fledgling millionaires are standing behind this union president? Throw out Smith and the agents; or let them start a new football league with these same money-grubbing agents. This would become a strike with contract players sitting at home finding another avenue toward a life of the rich and famous. And the NFL will continue…with or without them.

  45. Who gives a crap if players are at draft. We watch to see our team’s picks & the analysis, not the cheesy interviews! Dumb threats!!

  46. It’s interesting that colluding amongst the owners is actionable under antitrust laws BUT an organized action by a union to arguably restraint trade by requesting non union members to boycott the draft isn’t?

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