Monday, April 11, 2011

The Daily Rant: Just Shake On It

In honor of KD’s Mock Draft 1.0, I want to talk a little bit about an issue that’s been talked about relating to the NFL Draft. About a month ago, the NFLPA encouraged incoming rookies from attending the NFL Draft. The reasoning behind that request was to make a statement to the NFL that even the incoming rookies were in support for the NFLPA’s position in the lockout negotiations.

As of now, there will be a significant number of rookies attending the Draft. But apparently there will be a long-lasting grudge from the veterans once teams return to the locker room, whenever that may be. ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi recently said that “I would hate to be a rookie walking into a locker room if the last image veterans have of him is his shaking hands with the very man who canceled the health insurance for veterans’ families.” Personally, I believe this is an overstepping of both the NFLPA’s and the veterans’ perceived power, and that the players should have every right to go to the NFL Draft and shake Commissioner Goodell’s hand and have no repercussions from their teams when they set foot on the field come fall (or whenever the lockout ends).

Look, I understand the idea of a union holding up to show one unified position. As a law student, I’ve been taught over the last three years about the benefits and downsides to unions and their bargaining positions. But the thing that bothers me about the NFLPA and Bruschi’s position is that it completely overlooks the fact that these are 20, 21, and 22 year old kids who are being pressured into giving up the highlight of their lives up until this point. Not to mention that these kids aren’t greedy, money-hungry individuals like both the players AND the owners.

I think that if someone legitimately believes that having these guys enjoy their night at Radio City will take away from what the NFLPA is trying to accomplish through the lockout, then they need to get their heads checked. For many of these kids, this will be the highlight of their careers, because not all draft picks work out. Von Miller, Texas A&M LB and a named Plaintiff in the NFLPA's lawsuit against the NFL, said that "I'm honored to get an invitation and I plan on being there," said Miller. "It's always been a dream of mine, having my name called and being able to walk across the stage and shake the hand of the commissioner [Roger Goodell]." The NFLPA's forgetting these kids dreams, the dream that many of the NFLPA's player had when they were rookies.

Even if attending the Draft does undermine the NFLPA’s position, why haven’t we heard ANYTHING from either the NFLPA or players about the active NFL players appearing on the NFL Network to talk about the game, the lockout, and other issues? I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of “hypocritical.”

The Draft is about the fans and the rookies. It’s not about the lockout, and it sure as hell isn’t about the NFLPA. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but as Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said, “I hope all the top guys go to Radio City and get the experience as everyone else did, I think the fans that go to Radio City love it.” Let these kids enjoy their moment in the spotlight, hear their name called, shake the commissioner’s hand, slip on the hat and hold their new team’s jersey. Let the fans familiarize themselves with their new star, or let them writhe in pain as they complain about their team’s pick. In 1999, I went crazy in my living room when the Eagles took Donovan McNabb. I was so pumped up, even though the Eagles fans booed the crap out him. That’s what the Draft is about.

When it comes time to play football again, welcome those rookies into the culture of the NFL without holding a grudge against them. All they want to do is play football, probably more so than the veterans, who seem to only care about money.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, it's a somewhat ridiculous stance for the NFLPA to take, but I can see why they're doing it. Goodell represented the owners during the 2006 CBA negotiations under Tagliabue, and now he's head of the owners side this year. While I think the players side might want to re-thing DeMaurice Smith working for them (how he's in the mediation again is beyond me), but I think it's purely political.

    While there's always the traditional hazing of rookies by veterans, if those rookies help your team win, you'll forget pretty quickly that they shook Roger Goodell's hand on TV, once.

    Frankly, I'm a little more surprised that not many pitchforks are pointed in Goodell's direction as he's known this day would come since 2008 when the owners opted out of the 2006 agreement.