Since mediation broke down last week and owners locked out players hours after the NFLPA rejected an offer from owners, players have been struggling to regain the mostly positive public sentiment lost in the wake of those events. Those efforts took another hit yesterday as talk of a draft boycott by the very prospects having their names called bubbled up, again, around the interwebs. Now, there's a new plan in play for the players.
Peter King reports today about that new plan. It calls for top prospects to gather at a separate location, not Dick Cheney's bunker, rather a hotel or some other venue. As the names of draftees are called, draftees will get up and exchange hugs with their future teammates, also gathered in the yet-to-be-determined location.
It sounds lame after all the hype yesterday about a full-fledged boycott. In fact, it looks like an ass-covering scramble after fans and pundits quickly shot down the boycott trial balloon. To pull the alternative location plan off, the loose affiliation formerly known as the NFLPA would need to ensure TV cameras were also on location. Which is entirely possible as networks will undoubtedly chase the ratings of the offseason's premier event and look to heighten the conflict for Nielsen's sake.
Players should have never agreed to allow the draft in the event of a lockout in the first place. It's hypocritical. Throw in the boycott and its a reminder that they want it both ways. Ditto the owners, for having the draft in the midst of a lockout.
The truth is having current players welcome draft picks is a good idea, though not in this context. It's something the league and NFLPA should have been doing all along. Oh sure, you can be tragically hip and downplay the idea, but as a fan I think it would have been pretty cool to have Jason Smith shaking hands with Sam Bradford on the stage at last year's draft.
Half-assed boycott or not, the whole thing is just another reminder that both sides just need to quit trading PR jabs and get a deal done. Owners can't live without the players and vice versa. At this point, the only winning PR strategy is actually playing football.