NFLPA won't hold rival draft event

BY Alex Marvez • March 28, 2011

The feud between the NFL and NFL Players Association will not carry over to the upcoming college draft.

FOXSports.com has confirmed that the NFLPA will not hold a rival event when the NFL holds draft festivities April 28 to 30 in New York City. Instead, the NFLPA will hold a series of player functions around the league's annual draft activities.

The possibility of a rival event had cast a dark cloud over this year's ceremony. Not only did the NFLPA consider staging its own draft-night party, members of the association had also publicly leaned on top prospects to decline invitations to Radio City Music Hall because of the NFL player lockout.

"The potential draft picks are all men and we've treated them as men," NFLPA president Kevin Mawae recently told me and co-host Jim Miller in Sirius NFL Radio. "They're soon to be equals with us. It's their decision what to do on draft day. But why would you want to stand on a stage with the man (NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) who's going to prevent you from making a living and shine yourself all over TV for the (NFL) shield when they're the ones who locked you out in the first place? That's something (the prospects) have to ask themselves."

Goodell addressed the possibility of a rival draft event last week at the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans.

"(The draft) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for players to enjoy the success they have had and to start their career," Goodell said. "I hope that is not denied and the players are not put in the predicament of having to make that determination (whether to attend a rival event)."

The NFL is expected to invite 15 to 17 prospects projected to get picked in the first three rounds. The draft's first round will be held April 28 followed by rounds two and three on April 29 and rounds four through seven on April 30. Because of the lockout, prospects can have no contact with teams other than attending a draft news conference held in that franchise's city. Franchises also cannot sign draft picks to contracts during the lockout.

Besides community outreach, the NFLPA also will hold a Saturday night party in New York City with current and former players welcoming draft picks into the fold.

A rookie salary cap was part of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA that have collapsed. The NFL locked out players March 11 after the CBA expired and the NFLPA had decertified as a union. The latter allowed legal action against the league by individual players and led to the filing of Brady vs. the NFL, a 10-player lawsuit accusing the NFL of antitrust violations.

A Minnesota judge will weigh a request from the plaintiffs that would force the NFL to lift its lockout during an April 6 preliminary hearing. The NFL will contend that the NFLPA's decertification as a union is a sham and no decisions can be made until a judgment is issued on a complaint filed to the National Labor Relations Board.



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