Take a deep breath Addicts. The NFL Draft is going to happen no matter what but it might not be as fun as it was in year’s past.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, the NFLP is contacting the top college athletes expected to be drafted early in the draft to tell them not to accept invitations from the NFL to attend the draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
This would mean that while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would walk on to the stage to announce the selected player’s name, the player would not then come out onto the stage to receive his customary generic team jersey and NFL Draft hat. The player would also not be available on site for a media Q&A after being selected.
I’ve attended the draft as media and I can tell you the big reason for media to show up is the presence of the players. The first day of the draft last year was a start studded event featuring a red carpet, a few B-list celebrities and NFL Hall of Famers.
And of course, the players expected to be taken in the first round.
I was able to talk to Chiefs’ first round pick Eric Berry just moments before he was drafted and then again after in his press conference downstairs. I was then able to upload the interview and get it to you all shortly after on Arrowhead Addict.
This is an aggressive move by the players but it makes sense. The draft is a big deal for the NFL and by taking the players out of the process, it will make watching on TV much less compelling. My guess is that the NFLP feels that if the owners are going to lock them out and prevent them from entering the team facility, they shouldn’t let their future members attend an event that is going to help make the league more money.
Schefter reports that the NFLP is even considering putting the players on a rival network so that fans can see their reaction and hear from them after they are selected. This would really, really screw the draft up for the NFL.
While my guess is that fans will still attend and charge the atmosphere at Radio City Music Hall, I’m willing to bet the media will be scarce due to the lack of interview opportunities. This would mean less on-site coverage for the NFL.
The players are going after the owners where it hurts. It will be interesting to see if the rookies follow the NFLPA’s instructions and refuse to show up. It will be doubly interesting to see how the NFL responds to this tactic.