NFLPA plans to boycott 2011 NFL Draft
The National Football League (NFL) Players Association (NFLPA) is taking a boycott of April’s 2011 NFL Draft into serious consideration. The idea was first reported before the Super Bowl this year but it is coming into more focus as the NFLPA would actually
keep top draft picks from going to Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York and participating in the draft.
There has been no official decision or arrangement on behalf of the NFLPA yet, which decertified itself and is now a traded association as of Friday. Decertification paved way for ten players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in federal court.
They are seeking a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court. They have invoked the Sherman Act, which limits commerce and places restrictions on monopolies, and are seeking triple the amount of damages sustained, meaning that the stakes are in the hundreds
of millions of dollars range.
The players union contacted many of the higher-up agents before the Super Bowl via conference calls or face-to-face meetings. Most of the agents supported the union’s decision to boycott the draft entirely. Greg Aiello, spokesman for the league, said that
it is up to the prospects whether they wish to attend the draft or not.
“We plan to invite the 15-20 top prospects and their families to New York as we normally do for this once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Aiello said. “And, as always, it is the decision of the players and their families as to whether they attend.”
Texas A&M University’s Von Miller is one of the top prospects that will not attend the draft in the event of a boycott because he is also part of the federal antitrust lawsuit filed against the NFL. He and nine other players, including Indianapolis Colts
quarterback Peyton Manning, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, are suing the NFL to reverse the lockout that the league has imposed upon the players.
Also, some top agents have said that veteran players may hold picket protests outside of Radio City Music Hall if there is still a lockout at the end of April, when the draft will take place. The labor issue may be resolved before then since the federal
antitrust lawsuit will be presided over by U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson on 6 April. If all goes well then, a new labor deal will be made by the time the draft is scheduled to start.
However, players are pushing for the case to be assigned to Judge David Doty since he has presided over previous NFL cases and usually rules in favor of the players. But the cases are randomly assigned by computer so unless Judge Nelson wishes to hand the
case over to Judge Doty, the players are out of luck.