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Clearing the air on rookie contact rules

NFL Draft Football

An NFL logo and stage is shown before the first round of the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall, Thursday, April 22, 2010, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)


Some of you have asked us to clarify the rules regarding contact with draft picks after they become draft picks.

Initially, it was widely believed that, after the rookie’s name is called from the podium at Radio City Music Hall, the rookie joins the category of locked-out players.

We then reported that the players may go to the team facility for a post-draft press conference, and that the lockout as to those players commences once the press conference ends.

Since then, a sense has emerged that open-ended contact with draft picks is permitted through and until the end of the draft. Most recently, reported that the Eagles believe “the NFL will allow contact with their draft picks up until the end of the draft on Saturday,” and that the “grace period will enable players to speak with their new coaches, and possibly even come to Philadelphia for a press conference in the midst of a lockout.”

But NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells us that the permitted contact consists of a press conference, a simple “meet and greet,” and nothing more. No meetings, no communications, no discussions. Nothing football related. The window for holding the press conference closes upon the conclusion of the draft on Saturday, April 30.

It’s unknown whether any rookies will balk at attending a press conference as the last act before being locked out. If they go, it will make for an awkward parting, what with the deadbolt engaging behind the player as soon as he walks through the door of team headquarters after the press conference ends.