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NFLPA says it’s not asking players or agents to boycott draft

Top 2010 NFL Draft prospects appear atop the Marquee of Radio City Music Hall for photo call in New York

17 of the top 2010 NFL Draft prospects appear for a photo call atop the Marquee of Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 21, 2010. The 2010 NFL Draft will be held April 22 at Radio City Music Hall. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

REUTERS

In the wake of multiple reports that the NFLPA* will not stage events that compete with the 2011 NFL draft, NFLPA* spokesman George Atallah says via Twitter that the “NFLPA is not asking players or agents to boycott the NFL draft.”

But that’s not really news. Earlier this month, Atallah stressed (also on Twitter) that the NFLPA* had not asked anyone to boycott the draft. Last week, NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith told PFT Live the same thing. "[W]e saw the report from someone from another network that I won’t name use the word ‘boycott’ because it was a word that he wanted to come up with,” Smith said. “We never told folks to boycott the draft.”

Thus, we think the NFLPA* needs to go a step farther. Instead of saying that no one has been asked to boycott the draft, the NFLPA* needs to affirmatively encourage players who are invited to the draft to attend it -- especially since we’ve heard that at least one player expected to be invited to the draft has been quietly asked by the NFLPA* to not attend.

Saying that the NFLPA* has not asked anyone to boycott the draft and setting up events that don’t conflict with the draft provides P.R. cover, but it doesn’t undo the damage that already has been done via the Marie Barone passive-aggressive “go ahead and go to your fancy party even though the person hosting it has taken away my health insurance” routine. At this point, the NFLPA* needs to do more than no discourage attendance. The NFLPA* needs to give its blessing to the players who are invited to the draft.

Otherwise, it’s fair to say that plenty of the guys who opt to stay home with their families have selected a strategy that avoids any potential problems with their future NFL teammates and opponents.