A top-ranked prospect said he plans to attend the 2011 NFL draft in New York despite reports saying the NFL Players Association has asked top prospects to boycott the annual event, National Football Post reported Tuesday.
LSU star cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is currently projected by Scout.com as the third overall pick in its mock draft, told the website no one has contacted him in reference to the potential walkout.
"I heard about that," Peterson said. "No one has contacted me to go to New York or not go to New York. I would like to go if possible. That’s what you play football for.
"That’s a big moment to go up there and shake the commissioner’s hand and get that jersey and hat. It means a lot. I definitely want to go, and no one has told me not to go. So, we’ll see what happens. "
ESPN reported Monday that the NFLPA was working on a plan that would keep the top incoming players from attending the draft.
The union, which is classified merely as a trade association following its decision to file for decertification in the wake of failed labor negotiations with the league, contacted the top 17 prospects, according to the report.
"As of right now, this is 100 percent happening," an unnamed source told ESPN. "This is going down."
The union decertified Friday, hours before it was locked out by the owners as the two sides ceased talks for a new collective bargaining agreement. The draft — scheduled for April 28-30 — is one part of the offseason that will occur despite the lockout.
It would not be ideal for the NFL if the players selected in the draft were not there to shake hands with commissioner Roger Goodell, hold up their new team jersey, or be available for interviews.
"We plan to invite the 15 to 20 top prospects and their families to New York as we normally do for this once-in-a-lifetime experience," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told ESPN Monday.
"And, as always, it is the decision of the players and their families as to whether they attend."
The union’s decision to decertify Friday cleared the way for players to sue the league for antitrust violations.
The Sports Business Journal reported Monday that a preliminary hearing has been set for April 6 before US District Judge Susan Nelson in Minneapolis.
The NFLPA was hoping its motion seeking an injunction against the NFL owners’ lockout would go before federal judge David Doty, who ruled two weeks ago that the NFL could not have access to television revenue during a lockout.
The ruling emboldened the players association during federally mediated negotiations in Washington, which ended Friday with the two sides still split on how to divide the league’s $9.3 billion in revenue.
The case is named Brady v. NFL, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady serving as the lead plaintiff along with several other star players, including fellow quarterbacks Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.