The NFLPA is reportedly telling players not to attend the 2011 NFL draft in New York as is the custom. With the current labor climate, we should have known the draft wasn't safe from being a pawn in the labor dispute between the owners and players.
The fan reaction obviously wasn't a good one as folks who are tired of labor talk simply wanted to see their team pick a player in the draft without the words C, B and A getting involved. Here's NFLPA spokesman George Atallah on the issue early Tuesday morning:
The NFL Draft is special. Players and their families will be in NYC. It just maybe different. We will provide details when we can. I have been careful about what I can say on the record given our post-lockout world. There is a lot of frustration out there from everyone. The anger is palatable, but stick with us, we will be return to our positive message. We will get back to focusing on the good.
The NFLPA -- or a "union source" rather -- has since clarified the report from ESPN's Adam Schefter to indicate they're not forcing anyone to do anything. Instead they characterized it as a "recommendation".
Peter King of SI.com has added some more details to the story indicating that the NFLPA is considering hosting a separate event in New York that would be just for the players.
Under a plan now under consideration -- and those are the key words, now under consideration, because the idea isn't set in stone yet -- the decertified NFL Players Association would ask top picks to skip the annual NFL draft party and pre-draft events to attend a separate event organized by players. I am told the prospective rookies won't be ordered to do this. But the suggestion would be a strong one to rookies-to-be and their agents.
There would also be current players there so when the Broncos select player X with the second pick, someone like Champ Bailey or Tim Tebow would be at the players-only event to congratulate them.
The NFLPA is obviously trying to flex their muscle here because the NFL draft is a money maker for the league with the incredible popularity it's achieved.
Whether this idea is actually implemented, and whether it actually works, remains to be seen. I know most fans would prefer that a deal is in place by then so that business can go on as usual.