According to spokesman for the National Football League (NFL) Players’ Association George Atallah, the union has not asked players to boycott next month’s draft.
Reports recently suggested that 17 top prospects had been urged by the union to opt out of attending the draft in New York, with suggestions that the NFLPA may instead host a concurrent event where drafted players would be welcomed by new team-mates instead of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Assistant director of external affairs for the union, Atallah stated on his Twitter account: “The NFLPA is not asking anyone to ‘boycott’ anything. The NFL Draft is special. Players and their families will be in NYC. It just may be different. We will provide details when we can.”
The draft, scheduled from April 28-30 is expected to go ahead as planned by the NFL, despite having locked out the players after the League’s collective bargaining agreement with the union expired on Friday. The draft, to be held at Radio City Music Hall and set up by the NFL has invited players to attend, which the league claim is their decision.
Goodell, speaking on NFL Total Access Tuesday, said: “One of the things that makes the NFL Draft so great is that it’s an opportunity for these great young players to realise their hopes and dreams. Anyone that would interfere with all the hard work that they’ve put in to walk across that stage and become an NFL draft choice…I just don’t think that’s in the best interest of the young men and their families that have worked so hard to get to that stage and get to that opportunity.”
Goodell added: “Clearly that is not something the fans are going to want. They watched the draft in great numbers; as you know 45 million people watched the draft last year.”