Recently, the NFLPA asked those who are entering the 2012 draft to…well…not attend the draft. They are asking for a rookie boycott in solidarity with the rest of the players union against the owners and league who refuse to compromise their terms of the CBA. Smells like a lockout to me. But enough about my selfish thoughts about how this will affect me. It’s time to think about the children.
Many of these young men are no older than 20 or 21 when they enter the draft. They dreamed their entire lives of having a successful high school career, which leads to a scholarship to a school with a strong football program. They salivate over opportunities to show off for recruiters and scouts. If they’re lucky (and talented) they get to enter the draft with the very real possibility of becoming an NFL player, just like they always wanted. And it all begins with that day, in that giant ballroom, when their name gets announced, camera pans to their smiling face, they run up to the stage, get a tee shirt and a hat and shake Roger Goodell’s hand. This is the moment. And now it might not happen.
It is both unrealistic and unfair to ask these kids to give that moment up. I understand the need to push back against the league and show them that the players are serious about getting their needs met. But is it right to ask people who aren’t even PART of the players union or the league yet to make that sacrifice? I don’t think so. Increase the rookie salary cap and maybe you can make an argument that these men will get back what they gave up. But it isn’t all about money either. It’s about that moment—their families seeing them finally achieve their dreams.
I know how important it is to make sacrifices for others, and for the greater good. But this is something very sacred to the chosen few who get the opportunity to experience it. And it’s something that can’t be recreated and that they can’t get back.
In the end, I just wish it didn’t have to come to asking those who never took from the system to give something so regrettably irreplaceable.