Thursday, March 17, 2011, 7:03 p.m.By Rich Tandler and Ryan O'Halloran
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The NFL lockout has delayed the start of free agency but will not threaten the late April draft. Or so we thought. Even the NFLPA denies it is telling the top players to avoid New York, something could be cooking. Ryan OHalloran and Rich Tandler debate this latest development.
Ryan OHalloran: The NFLPA folks and the agents who are floating this idea should be ashamed of themselves. If there is some strong-arming going on, the rookies are being asked to be loyal to a union that has done nothing for them. Thats just pathetic. Talk to several of the Redskins who went in the first round, and they still recall with vivid detail every moment of draft weekend traveling with family to New York, waiting in the green room, getting their pictures taken on stage with the commissioner. The NFLPA had the publics support when mediation talks ended last week. This is a huge mistake.
Rich Tandler: If the players dont want to forgo the memories, then they can go to the draft and get the man hug from Roger Goodell and hold up the team jersey with the No. 1 on it. The NFL will still let them into Radio City Music Hall. The NFLPA just wants to create an alternative for players who feel they are going to get a raw deal from Goodell and the NFL owners. It is hypocritical for the commish to give them a warm welcome to the NFL and then, as soon as the draft ends on Saturday evening, slam the door shut on them.
OHalloran: Eventually, I think things will calm down and the draft will go on as normal because if the NFLPA pulls the stunt of having the players travel to New York and then do media availability across town, that will be a direct shot at Goodell. One thing that is interesting: What happens to all of the current players who do commentary before, during and after the draft? Im guessing the union wouldnt take kindly to those players doing work for networks owned by (NFLN) and in bed with (ESPN) the league.
Tandler: Im guessing that those players will have to go on whatever show the former union puts on down the street if they dont want to get the cold shoulder when they get back into the locker room. But why should the incoming players have any loyalty to the current players? One of the few things that the two sides agreed on during their recent talks was a rookie wage scale that would have slashed the money that would be paid to this incoming class of players. So the NFLPA threw them under the bus to increase the size of their slice of the pie. Hypocrisy abounds here.