NFLPA* needs to drop the draft day double talk

Given the intense fan reaction to Adam Schefter’s report that the NFLPA* told incoming rookies not to attend the 2011 draft, the NFLPA* quickly backpedaled, adopting the position that the entity with no power to tell anyone to do anything has not told the incoming rookies invited to Radio City Music Hall to stay home and watch TV.

But the NFLPA* has followed that message with a Marie Barone layer of passive-aggressive guilt, wondering aloud why any player would choose to attend an event being staged by the entity that will welcome the rookies with open arms — just before locking them out.

On Friday, NFLPA* Executive Committee member Drew Brees and NFLPA* president Kevin Mawae tried in separate contexts to pull off the “I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin'” routine.

Said Brees on ESPN:  “Each rookie has, if they’ve been invited to New York, they absolutely have the option of going to New York.  I think to our point it was, ‘How do you feel about walking across the stage and shaking the hand of the Commissioner who just locked you out?’  And as great an experience as it is to get drafted, which it absolutely is, I think the even greater experience is to play your first game and to have the opportunity to win a championship, and right now that’s being threatened with this lockout.”

Said Mawae on Sirius NFL Radio:  “[W]hen it comes down to what’s going to happen on draft day, we know there is going to be a draft.  And the guys, the potential draft picks, they’re all men and we’ve treated them as men and they are soon to be equals with us and it’s their decision what to do on draft day.  But here’s the thing, why would you want to stand up on a stage with a man that is going to prevent you from making a living, that has called for a lockout, and shined yourself all over the TV screen for the shield when in fact they’re the ones who are locking you out in the first place?  That’s just something they’ve got to ask themselves.  We have not boycotted.  We have not said you can’t go.  We’ve done nothing like that.  But we do want them to seriously consider the idea that the man that you are going to shake hands with on the day you get drafted is the man that is going to prevent you from making a living.”

We have a ton of respect and admiration for men like Brees and Mawae.  But at a time when the players want the owners to realize that the players aren’t stupid, the players need to realize that the rest of us — including the incoming draft picks — aren’t stupid, either.  We all know what the players are trying to do.  They want to pressure the rookies into not going to the draft, without being accused of pressuring them into not going to the draft.

We’d respect the move a lot more if the players would simply just acknowledge that they’re pressuring the rookies into not going to the draft.

Here’s our take on the situation.  Both sides agreed when signing the 2006 CBA that a draft would occur after the ultimate expiration of the agreement, regardless of whether a new agreement was reached.  Both sides need to respect that, and both sides need to fully commit to the process.

The players also need to realize that no one watches the draft to see the new players walk across the stage and get a man hug from Roger Goodell.  The gesture is for the new players’ benefit, not ours.  Fans will still watch the draft, regardless of whether the incoming rookies attend it.

That said, the damage already is done.  Any rookie who attends the draft will have a harder time fitting in with some of the harder-headed veterans on his team once the lockout ends.  And any rookie who attends the draft also will have to keep his head on an even looser swivel when on the field against opponents who perceive the decision as a betrayal.

And that’s unfortunate.  Men like Drew Brees and Kevin Mawae and most of the other players can’t relate to the sacrifice that a handful of rookie have been pressured into making, since they weren’t invited to attend the draft when they were rookies.  And what’s really the goal?  To send a message that barely will resonate?

At this point, the NFL’s best move possibly would be to invite no rookies to the draft, and to explain that the league doesn’t want to force its newest employees to have to make such a difficult decision in light of the pressure that their future peers are deliberately placing upon them.

64 responses to “NFLPA* needs to drop the draft day double talk

  1. You have a ton of respect for men like Brees and Mawae?

    Why? Simply because they play pro football, or because they want to ruin the biggest day in these kids lives to make some silly point about “union solidarity”; solidarity to a union that supposedly doesn’t exist from college kids who aren’t even in the non existent union? That makes sense.

    Mawae has made almost 60 million dollars playing pro football. He hasn’t played in almost two years, but hangs around being angry and bitter. About what? Does the man have any loife outside of pro football? Does he ever plan to get one?

    Does playing center in the NFL earn that many respect points with you?

    Man, you sure are easy to please.

  2. I think these first round picks should be angry at the NFLPA* for so quickly selling them out and being ready to negotiate a lower salary for them, merely using them as pawns and negotiating pieces.

    What has the NFLPA* done for them except lower their incoming salary from previous years? I would be angry if I were them, and I would show up to stick it to the NFLPA* who obviously doesn’t care about my financial goals as a first rounder.

  3. are you serious? why at the end of every article do you write something about how the nfl has to give in to these brats? i really thought you were not being biased up until that point.

    these spoiled players say the rookies shouldnt shake the hand of the man who is locking them out. the damn players are locking the players out by not negotiating with the owners. the owners spend tons of money to buy and build franchises. they deserve a chance to redo the deal if it is not working for them. we all know they are losing money but they may not be making as much as they should.

    when a player has an option to back out of his last year, the team allows him to do that. the owners had the option to back out of the deal and they used it. these players have no idea what the real world is like, they think they are gods.

  4. i could care less if the players go to the draft. i actually would rather they didnt. i have no need to see them walk up and hug the commiss. but i guess some fans do, so the players want to screw the owners by pressuring these kids into not going. i would love if they struck a deal and boycotted the players causing all the problems. i know its not all the players. i pray when this is all over i never have to see dsmith again. when he says “dig” it just sounds corny

  5. I am on the players side in this. The draftees would not be smart to go meet their new bosses who will eventually hand them millions of dollars along with the commish because they will not be getting to play football right away. The players only want to play football, that is their only care in this process, to play football. The draftees should instead go to where the *NFLPA is going to be that night. They should go hang out with the guys who are at least as responsible for this schmozzel even though they try to portray that they are the helpless innocents. Do they really think we as fans are as dumb as they pretend we are? Just because they hitched their collective wagon to Smith and believe the stuff he tells them doesnt make him right.

  6. It is absolutely ridiculous for the players to take this stance, or to put this pressure on the incoming rookies. There will be football again, the question is when. But these players want to take away a once in a lifetime experience from the players (and their families) that are invited to the draft. I would be pretty resentful of the NFLPA* for putting that type of pressure on me.

  7. “We have a ton of respect and admiration for men like Brees and Mawae” – Really? Your continuos butt kissing of the double talking, trash talking – everything but specifics talking union and players is really ridiculous

    Tide has turned – fans are tired of the Unions stall and diversionary tactics meant to buy time to get them to Apr 6th. Throwing out negative bombs with no specifics – ridiculous.

    They’ve been smoked out – it’s time to step up and move thus forward.

  8. I really think telling the rookies not to come to NY comes off as petty and desperate. Drew Brees reminds me more and more of Tom Glavine every day.

    I’m also kind of confused what role Mawae really has right now…..there is no union, he’s not currently a player, and the
    Players association doesn’t care about retired players/won’t take their calls. One can only hope that the retired players union accepts Mawae with the vigor that he’s accepting incoming rookies. How does Mawae’s continued involvement not expose decertification as the sham it is.

  9. Funny how the fact that the players union called it quits BEFORE they were locked out. Its not like the owners locked them out and then invited the draftees to the draft.

    But i guess when you’re a union/non-union/trade association/secret society, you can tell people you think are below you whatever you wish and not be questioned about it

  10. I have been a supporter of the player in the silly drama, even though I am a business owner with more than 125 employees. But I totally agree with Mike’s take on this issue. The NFLPA* has already placed these young men in such a difficult position and it has made the union look petty. Worse than that, it is impossible to reconcile their own position of the players planning to workout with their teammates during the lockout to make sure their teams have a competitive advantage once the season begins. This is in effect helping the owners, at the health risk of each player and does nothing to help the players. Why would the Colts care if a settlement occurs if they know Manning is already running practices and the team doesn’t have to pay the players? BUT WAIT … you can practice together, just don’t let your family see you get drafted on TV for the ONLY time this will happen in you lifetime!

  11. How about this idea. The players unionize and form a new football league. See how easy it will be for the owners to fill the stadiums with second rate players. The saying is everyone is replacebale. Go ahead owners give us as good of a product with new players.

  12. Pressuring these kids out of their draft day is a lowlife move. Shame on the NFLPA*.

  13. NFLPA needs to do two things:

    1.) STFU
    2.) Get back to the negotiating table (regardless if Goodell, Pash or Batterman are there or not)

    Honestly, the pressuring of rookies (and their families) to sacrifice one of their biggest achievements just for the sake of the union? It’s just great that some of these vets can order the rooks around with veiled threats of intimidation. Yup, that will help build team unity

    ENOUGH ALREADY! Act like adults and get this stuff ironed out.

    I could see the players bargain for guaranteed contracts in exchange for something from the owners. That and a vesting period for health insurance to cover their med. needs upon retirement (not free or even at a cheap rate, just the opportunity to make sure they still have coverage upon retirement).

  14. Don’t enjoy your moment in the sun. Skip this once in a lifetime opportunity. Instead skip the draft, so you can show support for the alleged “union” that is negotiating to have your pay cut in half. That way they can keep more of the cash for themselves. Sounds like a win-win for everybody!

  15. Good article Mike. The rookies attending or not attending the draft will mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. Goodell or the owners aren’t going to feel pressured to stop a lockout just because the #1 overall pick wasn’t in NYC to shake their hand when they got drafted.

    The only thing that might come about from this whole situation is a rookie that DOES attend the draft and then gets crapped on by his peers because of it. And how that will help anyone in this whole situation is beyond me.

  16. I wonder how many of these players urging draft prospects not to attend the event got to shake the commissioner’s hand when THEY were drafted?


  17. Why is Mawae even in the picture anymore? He isn’t a player anymore, hasn’t been a player since 2009.

    He’s no longer needed by any NFL team and no fans want his sorry ass so he needs to shut his mouth and crawl into a hole somewhere… though no hole probably wants him either. He’s a washed up has-been.

    I hope there’s a full season long lockout and the owners break the backs of the players. Force 90% of them into bankruptcy and watch them crawl back begging.

    They’re a bunch of crying bishes with an improper sense of entitlement. Let those fools go out and actually find real jobs.

  18. Will somebody please ask Brees how he feels playing for a head coach who crossed the picket line to be a SCAB player?

  19. Why would the owners step in to fix a PR blunder the players created? You suggestion would only put the owners in the cross hairs of this particular blunder.

    The owners should stay quiet and the players should tell the players… mea culpa, please go if you get asked. It’s complete asinine for the players to put the rookies in this position…

    IN FACT… it’s those exact rookies their asking not to go that the players so easily gave up during negotiations. If they should be shunning anyone… it’s the veterans for not standing up for them.

  20. Kids want to be able to go up on stage, and hold up their new jersey on TV for their family and friends to see.

    STFU NFLPA and let the kids enjoy a nice moment. It doesn’t make one tiny little bit difference in you and the league’s little b*tch-fight. They’ll be good little foot soldiers for you once that’s done and they actually become dues-paying members.

  21. No, the best move the NFL can do is publicly ask the NFLPA* to invite the incoming draftees to the draft. This allows for 1)the NFLPA* the chance to retract their stance without feeling like they are losing face. 2) the NFL and NFLPA* to work TOGETHER on something small (and hopefully this will be the start of them working togther on other larger things). And 3) this allows the draftees to avoid the problems mentioned above of ticking off either the league or his future coworkers. And finally if the players take the offer to invite the draftees it shows their true colors, just trying to hurt the NFL because they are upset instead of as the men, they claim to be, trying to reach a fair AGREEMENT.

  22. Mel Kiper said it earlier and I agree. The 2011 draft class is the only one this will ever happen too. Everyone agreed to the draft in 2006’s CBA. Don’t take this moment away from these kids. I believe the players are losing more fan favor as this continues.

  23. At this point, the NFL’s best move possibly would be to invite no rookies to the draft, and to explain that the league doesn’t want to force its newest employees to have to make such a difficult decision in light of the pressure that their future peers are deliberately placing upon them.
    Thank you for admitting that the NFLPA has some culpability in what’s going on but again, Why does the league and only the league have to be the better person in the mess? The best move would be for Brees and company to tell the young players to attend the draft as it’s a once in a lifetime experience. The league gains nothing by not inviting the rookies to the draft. It is only the players that benefit.

    Keep in mind that Von Miller, one of those incoming rookies likely to be invited to the draft is a named plaintiff in the lawsuit. His complaint, the draft should be abolished. Why make things easier for someone who is suing you?

  24. See Mike, you CAN be neutral. Thank you.

    That’s not to rip you, at all–just wishing you would opt for the same tone with all your CBA-related posts. I enjoy reading your take on all this, your background makes your insight especially valuable, and it’s that much better without the knee-jerk call for the league to concede to every NFLPA* claim and demand.

  25. It’s sad that the players have proven themselves to be this stubborn. Look guys, if you read this site and our comments, the fans are against you, go back to the table and negotiate. If you act like adults you will win us back, if not, we will pull for the rookies and the scabs they bring in to replace your greedy arses.

    Deb and Foozie will still love you, the rest of us wont.

  26. I dont think any team’s players that are drafting in the 1st 10 picks could give anyone a hard time…they need these top rookies

  27. All the rhetoric about Goodell “wanting to prevent you from making a living” and Goodell “keeping you from playing in your first game” is pretty ridiculous. Come on guys, nobody believes, even you, that the lockout is going to last forever. It could easily end before the draft. It won’t last more than one season, and it’s unlikely to even go that far.

    Eventually, the league and the players are going to have to make nice again. Stop making it harder for that to happen.

  28. Let them enjoy the event like everyone else has. The players need to stop now before they lose fan support. Plus its the incoming Rookies choice and who knows they may have something planned themselves. Not shake the Comish’s hand, walk to the stairs then go sit back down or walk across the stage with a shirt on protesting no lockout. Its the rookies time back off NFLPA & players

  29. I hate the NFLPA! I hate the League! I hate the lawyers! I have the agents! I guess I’ll have to force myself to watch boring baseball. ugh

  30. Pa-the-tic…..maybe the draftees will want to shake the hands of the veterans who want their first contract to be a fraction of what it would have been if there was no rookie cap? Stick the rookie. then expect him to honor your non-union advice? Pa-the-tic

  31. The idea that the union is asking the top potential draftees to bypass this opportunity for brotherhood sake is quite possibly the most assinine request I have heard yet. The union brothers have already caved on these same rookie salaries but they want them to sacrifice this night with their friends and family. They lose the right to ask for this support without giving theirs in return.

  32. It would be a great PR . move . I think they should do it not invite anyone there. I watch the draft to see who was drafted by my team and the teams i route against. I could care less about the photo opps for the Players. Throw it back in the faces of the Union . What the players are doing to a few draft picks I think is despicable. Low class all the way . The draft would move a bit faster that way.

  33. Re:” And any rookie who attends the draft also will have to keep his head on an even looser swivel when on the field against opponents who perceive the decision as a betrayal”

    Wait until some of these rookies ,who got their draft day moment stolen from them, have a chance to knock Drew’s head off with a blindside sack……..maybe in the long run it’s the vets who need to be worried about retribution from these rookies….

  34. Okay, but on the other hand how would it affect incoming rookies who refuse to attend the draft?

    What happens in a couple of years when one of them has to appeal a fine to Roger Goodell’s office?

    A LOT is being asked of this year’s draft class.

  35. I guess the players don’t think they will win the anti-trust lawsuit. If they did, they’d realize that there would no longer be a lockout by draft time, and in all likelihood the players would play under last year’s rules until an agreement is reached. If that’s the case, how can they possibly pressure the rookies not to show up?

  36. I am stunned @ the arrogance of the NFLPA (and this is coming from a guy who generally supports the players in this fight… although less so with all the things they have been saying as of late).

    They knew they were going to have to make some sort of financial concessions to the owners so they looked around and said “hey… the draftees aren’t in the union yet so we can throw them under the bus financially” and then immediatly after say to the draftees “hey guys, would you mind helping us out here and don’t attend the draft?” What arrogance.

    In life, you get to screw someone financially or you get to ask them a favor… you don’t get to do both.

    Oh… and for Drew Brees…

    Drew, how do you think they draftees will like crossing the stage to shake the hand of the commissions who locked them out? Proabably a heck of a lot better than shaking the hands of the union reps that sold them out. The owners weren’t charged with looking after the draftees best interests.

    You were.

  37. Dear Rookie:

    You must take care of yourself and your family. NFL (not for long) players are terrified about keeping their jobs at all times. They know they can be replaced when and if they “do not do their job.” Every hour of the day is spent obsessing about keeping the job. (Except, Haynesworth, et. al)…..

    The NFLPA is trying to intimidate you into boycotting the draft. These same guys are on thin ice with the owners (after all, the guys who sign the checks). Who do you want to piss off? Guys who are looking after their own best interest, or, the guy who signs your checks?

    Be smart: Don’t piss off the guy who signs your checks!

  38. 1tonka2 says: Mar 19, 2011 9:47 PM

    How about this idea. The players unionize and form a new football league. See how easy it will be for the owners to fill the stadiums with second rate players. The saying is everyone is replacebale. Go ahead owners give us as good of a product with new players.


    I agree, I’d LOVE to see this.

    The NFL would suffer short-term, but here’s the thing: Peyton Manning and all the other superstar players weren’t here 20 yrs ago. They won’t be here 20yrs from now. The NFL has been, and will continue to be, at the forefront, with these players or without.

    On the other hand, let’s see how much money these players make without the 80-some years of NFL history and tradition, without the state-of-the-art stadiums, and without the sweetheart national TV contracts.

    Sorry, but 100% of that is going to be like lost change in your couch cushions compared to even a sliver of NFL revenues, and that’s the point that’s lost on everyone that says “but it’s the players!”

    Yes, it’s the players. But you fail to realize that without the NFL, there’s no brand, and thus no players. That structure–and all that revenue–was not built by the players. Let ’em strike out on their own, and then everyone who tries to say that the league and owners don’t matter will learn something real fast. Without the successful businessmen, there’s no pie for the players to take a share of (see USFL, XFL, and the hanging-on-by-a-thread UFL, currently being sued by anybody and everybody for not paying their bills, including player salaries…)

  39. The NFLPA really had its head up in butt when it suggested the potential top draft picks should boycott going to the draft in New York.

  40. The roockies aren’t even members of the NFL yet! They also aren’t members of the Union (that doesn’t exist) yet either. So, the NFL should invite them to come. The players that are invited should attend.

    Both sides in this negotiation are equally wrong. You can’t side with either of them because they are both being greedy & stupid. The league wants an extra BILLION dollars for themselves & 2 more games because $9 Billion a year isn’t enough money already!!! PHHTT…can you believe that??!! The players want to increase the max caps so they can get paid more & they want access to the owners 10 years worth of tax returns (which isn’t going to happen). The players were the ones that walked away from the table which means they wanted to push this rather than find common ground. If for no other reason, that is why the players don’t deserve our respect.

  41. For every Brady and Brees there is a college QB ready to challenge them. The “once upon a time” stars can and will be eclipsed by the up and coming shooting stars, just like it happens every year, year after year, in the NFL college draft. Not one person or player is indispensable in the NFL; that’s why there is a draft every year. All you player apologists are nothing more than closet political hacks whose interest in football is dependent on the $50.00 bill you bet on any given game on any given Sunday. I like wagering; but I can wager on replacements the same as I wager on multi-millionaire snobs. Every game has a winner and loser, and the point spread tells the tale.

  42. New players could look at Roger Goodell as the man who they can cooperate with to see that they each earn fabulous amounts of money playing a game instead of having to ‘work at a job’ like most of the rest us.

  43. Brees needs to read a little history about Joe Kapp and being a union loudmouth. I had season tickets to Saints for their first 7 years when I was there so have followed them forever; Brees had a great year for SB but history of these guys is that they flame out from distractions.

    I am an LSU alum; Mawae was always trouble. He is getting a lot more publicity now than ever before during his mediocre career and, as someone else said, is bitter that it is over. Wonder how much of that 60 million he has left?

    NFLPA* and Owners* need to all grow up and get the hotheads out of the room – Richardson, Kessler, Dee Smith, Brees, Mawae, etc.!!

  44. well certainly none of the current players built the brand to where it was say, 1998, pretzel.

    and roadboy, i am a better too, i bet on virtyally all games, and i can bet on scabs. i relish the opportunity.


    union, or should i say, former union – j’accuse!

  45. “Any rookie who attends the draft will have a harder time fitting in with some of the harder-headed veterans on his team once the lockout ends. And any rookie who attends the draft also will have to keep his head on an even looser swivel when on the field against opponents who perceive the decision as a betrayal.”

    Maybe this works both ways.
    If this means that Brady can kiss his league “protection” goodbye, then I’m all for it.

  46. BREES: ‘How do you feel about walking across the stage and shaking the hand of the Commissioner who just locked you out?’

    INCOMING DRAFTEE’S: “He didn’t lock us out — he locked out your defunct group of misinformed, out of touch, steroid masking, gun toting, bar hopping, ex-cons that have lost all respect for the game and the PRIVILEDGE it is to be an NFL player. We only wish the league would expand the draft to 55 rounds so the Owner’s could draft ENTIRELY NEW REPLACEMENT TEAMS for you greedy money grubbers that are ruining the game we love to play. Tell me Drew, at what point in your NFL career did you forget that you are PLAYING A GAME and MAKING MILLIONS but now suddenly you think you “DESERVE” so much more? ”

    FANS: “Brees, Mawae, Brady — Take your millions that you have been paid, much of which was gauranteed even if you sucked that year, and go back to where you came from. The NFL is bigger than you and will go on with or without you”.

  47. One day, this will all be behind us and everyone will be playing again on Sunday. However, if these kids skip the draft, they’ll never get that experience back for themselves and their family. Let them have their moment and resume the fight the next day.

  48. You’re wrong Mike…it is wrong for the NFL to even invite the rookies and put them and the NFLPA in this position. Why? because the NFL has threatened all it’s coaches and employees with termination for making any contact with players. And the second these kids get drafted, they are players because that team holds their rights, contract or not. So when Goodell moves to give them a hug, he’s violating his own order to not engage a player. It is a case of the NFL using these rookies to drive a wedge in the union. If you are locking the players out, don’t have the players at your draft.

  49. The NFLPA is right! What’s the big deal walking across the the floor in a new suit! You stillhave to make a time and play to have a career. Walking on the stadge counts for nothing!!! Just supports the owners who tring screw you and your fellow players. This publication is only interested in strring the pot! ESPN just wants a better show! I don’tblame you or ESPN but the draft day parade is NOT FOOTBALL!!!! Get Real.

  50. These pretzels are making me thirsty! says:
    Mar 20, 2011 12:08 AM

    1tonka2 says: Mar 19, 2011 9:47 PM

    How about this idea. The players unionize and form a new football league. See how easy it will be for the owners to fill the stadiums with second rate players. The saying is everyone is replacebale. Go ahead owners give us as good of a product with new players.
    Great idea 1tonka2, except…..where will this new football league play? Down on the corner lot? Duh! They won’t have stadiums.

  51. I’m not a saints fan but i was a bree’s fan until he started opening his mouth. The jersey i had of him.. it is now in the trash can… He’s just jealous because he wasn’t invited to the draft, of course he has no idea what that really means for a player.. This is not about anyone else but the player.. I think most fans really don’t care, Teams they rather just give a call probably. So Bree’s, stop being selfish and let the kids have THEIR moment.

  52. I’m starting to lose respect for the playerz union.

    Suggesting that a rookie not attend the draft is just plain selfish and self-serving.

    Perhaps the union made a mistake electing their new “leader” D. Smith.

    So what if there is no football in 2011? All that means is when the gates do open, there will be that many more palyerz willing to play for the cheap. The ownerz have a commanding position but they are too also short-sighted. Give the playerz more than you want to – it builds team confidence & respect . . .

    I predict D Smith will not be leading the union in two years

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