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ExtremeRavens: The Sanctuary

The union is completely misplaying this thing


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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.


So put this on the backs of players who are not even a part of the union or the league yet. If players who don't come to the Combine get drafted later because the no-show hurt their stock they should be pissed. I would take that anger out on my agent and D Smith.

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  • 2 weeks later...



As explained in Friday’s item regarding the 10 things to know right now about the labor situation (have we mentioned that we’ve posted a new item regarding the 10 things to know right now about the labor situation?), the union currently has no reason to do a deal, since the union currently has no leverage.


One big source of leverage could come from a ruling by Judge David Doty that $4 billion in TV money won’t be paid to the owners during a work stoppage. That would force guys like Jerry Jones to come up with his monthly mortgage payment from something other than his $125 million share of the broadcast pie. A hearing is scheduled for February 24, and a ruling is expected by March 3.


Until then, the union has to consider any and all available options, including arranging a boycott of the scouting combine and the draft.


Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported over the weekend (via SportsBusiness Daily) that the possibility remains on the table. Though Cole characterizes it as a “long shot,” he said that four sources believe that “momentum for some type of protest is growing and is expected to be a point of discussion Monday during a conference call between NFL Players Association officials and agents.”


A boycott of the Scouting Combine and/or the draft has been tied to the league’s position regarding the rookie wage scale, which would be the best (and perhaps only) way to get the attention of an incoming crop of players who are hoping to be drafted as high as possible.


Though Cole says that the idea of boycotting the Scouting Combine and/or the draft was first mentioned during a February 4 meeting of agents and NFLPA executives, talk of taking a stand first started in July 2010.


To date, nothing has happened. Players showed up for the Senior Bowl, and it would be a shock if they fail to report for the Scouting Combine. Unless the union could get all of them to stay away, the only ones who won’t work out are the ones who didn’t plan to work out at the Scouting Combine anyway.


Pro Day workouts also could be a potential sticking point, if the union could coax the rookies into choosing not to run. And, of course, the ultimate indignity would come from a refusal of the top-end picks to show up for the prime-time spectacle that is the NFL draft.


Frankly, we think the draft itself will be the most vulnerable event, since it would happen nearly two months into a lockout and since the players invited to New York will be the ones most affected by a rookie wage scale, which by taking away the windfalls paid to the top 10 picks also will take away the three-percent fee collected on those windfalls.


We also expect fans and media attending the draft to be greeted with a deep picket line of high-profile NFL players who will be urging folks not to enter Radio City Music Hall.


We wonder whether the NFL has considered that possibility.

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If I were goingto be a rookie and the union and my agent said don't go to the combine I would might just do what they say. The thing is if I were the team I would not draft a guy that as high if he didn't show. If I am a player that is supposed to be drafted in the first 10 picks but I get picked at say #25. I would be pissed. I would hold it against D Smith and my agent.

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