Today I was reading ESPN.com, as is my habit. I took a look at the mock drafts and the upset picks in the NCAA tournament, but one article in particular caught my eye.
The article was called Rookies have responsibility to skip draft. It was written by none other than Ted Bruschi.
Tedy Bruschi was a two-time All-Pro and three-time Super Bowl champion as a member of the New England Patriots. As a player he was a member of the NFL Players Association.
Now he can write an opinion piece on a major sports website in support of the same union he was a part of?
In the article, Bruschi states that the rookies invited to the draft should, and have a responsibility to, skip it. Bruschi claims that they are fighting for the future of the NFL and that they cannot afford to lose. He says the NFL is no longer in its prime.
But wasn't the NFL the biggest money-making sport last year? The only reason the NFL is in jeopardy is because the union and the owners are acting like squabbling children.
Albeit, the stakes are nine billion dollars.
Still, both sides are rich. Fighting over more money is not good for your image.
Bruschi claims the current players are fighting for future players, but are they really? They are fighting for no salary cap, the elimination of the franchise tag, and the reorganization of free agency. The owners want to spend less on current and retired players, claiming they are falling on hard times financially.
Should the rookies skip the draft?
While I do agree that the owners should open up their books to show the players that they are really in a financial bind, and I do believe the players are being selfish, I have not chosen to side with either party. Both are being selfish and are putting the game in jeopardy.
If Bruschi wants to say on a mainstream sports website that the union is right, even though he is a former member and biased, I will not lose any sleep over it. What bothers me is how he almost threatens the players who will skip.
In my opinion, he threatened the players who are deciding whether or not to attend the draft.
Instead of just saying these incoming players have a responsibility to help out the union, he says that if they do not skip the draft, the players on their new teams might lose all respect for them and make it harder for rookies in an already tough situation.
Well, for one, why should they help their union brothers that are trying to reduce the money they will make on their rookie contracts? Why should they give up their moment in the spotlight to help reduce their own salaries?
Rookies know they might not pan out in the NFL. This could be their last big-money contract. Why shouldn't they take advantage of it?
Bruschi is telling these players that they are between a rock and a hard place. For all intents and purposes, he is saying, "We are going to reduce your salary, it will happen, so either help us do it or we will make your NFL lives miserable."
He even goes so far to mention Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert, saying how hard it will be for a rookie quarterback to be successful without the help of his teammates.
This scares me. Bruschi is close to many players who are in the midst of this; he knows what the union members are thinking. This may be what players will do. They may make rookies' lives harder if they go to the draft, and that is wrong.
Or this could all be hypothetical thinking by Bruschi; maybe current players won't care what rookies do and Bruschi has no idea what he is talking about.
If you are a player eligible for the draft, how do you know? Intentional or not, Bruschi threatened these players. He has told them that union members will make their lives as football players harder if they do not help the union reduce their contracts.
Unfortunately, skipping the draft is a publicity stunt. It will not hasten or decide the outcome of the labor situation, but it will force the new players to miss an event that has been a lifelong dream for them to attend, or to attend it and be shunned by their fellow players.
These veterans are asking rookies to make sacrifices for the greater good, but really it's only the veterans being helped.
The veterans acknowledge that they did get to go to the draft and get big contracts and it was sweet, but they say the NFL is bigger than the rookies—so too bad, Blaine Gabbert, so sorry, Julio Jones. I feel for you Nick Fairley, but the players union wants more money and it is your "responsibility" to threaten your money-making potential to help these complete strangers get what they want.
To all the union leaders, a word of advice: The best leaders do not ask their followers to do what they will not do themselves. If you give in to the NFL because you are losing money during a lockout, we will see if the rookies still respect you then.
Because, after all, you have to make sacrifices for the greater good. The rookies will—will you?