The draft consists of 32 supposedly independent businesses systematically calling dibs on a broad crop of incoming employees. At some point, the NFL managed to convince these incoming employees that being involuntarily sorted and shipped to cities and states far from where they’d prefer to live and work is an honor and a privilege.
It’s not. It’s fundamentally un-American, stripping from individuals the fundamental freedom to choose where and for whom they’ll work. But the incoming employees go along because, frankly, they have no choice and little if any leverage.
Every once in a while, one of the incoming employees has leverage, and he chooses to uses it. It happens rarely, with the list currently consisting to date of two men: (1) John Elway; and (2) Eli Manning. This year, a third name possibly can be added to the list. 2018 Heisman winner Kyler Murray.
With a plug-and-play baseball career at the ready, and a $4.66 million signing bonus already earned, Murray can become one of the few to tell the NFL the circumstances under which he’ll willingly become an employee of a professional football team. He can say, plainly and clearly, that if he’s not drafted by a certain team (or teams) and/or if he’s not selected at a certain level, he’s not signing a football contract and playing baseball instead.
That would be an aggressive move by Murray, a far cry from the currently prevailing notion (within league circles) that he’ll need to fully and completely submit to football in order to be drafted as high as possible. He can instead make a conditional commitment to football, hiring a trusted agent who can tell each team before the draft starts “yes” or “no” as to whether a decision to select him will get Murray to play.
This could scare off the teams that hear “no,” or it could cause them to squat on Murray and trade him to one of the teams to which he says “yes.” Regardless, keeping one foot in baseball could give Murray the ability to turn the draft process on its head, picking his next destination in the same way he picked a college football program.
Most incoming NFL players don’t even think about pulling a power play like this because they lack the leverage to make it stick. Murray, by ensuring that baseball will still be there if he doesn’t like what he hears on draft night, can send a clear message to the NFL.
“I’ll play on my terms, not on yours.”
Here’s hoping he does it. Players having real power over Big Shield are way too few and far between. Murray is the next one to have that power, and he should be advised above all else to use it to the fullest.