UPDATE: It looks like there won’t be a boycott. Apparently the NFLPA and its certified agents agree that it wasn’t such a great idea. We assume they realised it wasn’t feasible for some of the reasons listed below.EARLIER: There are growing whispers that the NFLPA is exploring the possibility of having draft prospects skip the scouting combine in protest of the NFL’s rookie wage scale.
The idea, on the surface, is simple. These prospects are about to get hosed financially, at least in comparison to the prospects of years past, so the NFLPA wants to throw a wrench into the draft system by messing up the combine in hopes that it will force the NFL to budge on its rookie wage scale.
For Nick Fairley, Da’Quan Bowers, and a handful of other sure top picks, the boycott makes some sense. It wouldn’t affect their draft stock, and it could annoy NFL teams enough to push them towards concessions, and therefore, more dollars for those top picks.
But for all but the most elite prospects, sacrificing the combine would be a fatal error. The combine is their chance to prove to NFL teams that they deserve to be picked higher, and consequently, make more money. With or without a rookie wage scale, a player’s draft slot determines how much he’ll make. There are very few players that can afford to toss away the opportunity to improve their ratings that the combine affords.
By asking these college kids to skip the combine, the NFLPA would be asking them to be unselfish, to take one for the team. That’s a big theme with the NFLPA during these negotiations, and an admirable one at that. But it’s difficult to suggest to a 20-year-old that he should be willing to ignore the dollar signs he’s worked towards his whole life, and let the chips fall where they may at the draft. Not when that kid has a chance to prove he’s worth more, and all of these kids think they are. They’ve been raised to think that way. So though the NFLPA might really be able to achieve its goal if it can organise a boycott, it’s hard to imagine the NFLPA being able to convince its newest members that they should make this sacrifice for others before they’ve even sniffed an NFL paycheck.
On the other hand, if the combine is rendered irrelevant, we might finally see kids get drafted based on their on-field performance rather than their scores on silly tests.
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