Sources: NFLPA wants draft boycott

Updated: March 15, 2011, 11:04 AM ET
By Adam Schefter | ESPN

An offseason turned upside down will continue to get odder.

The NFL Players Association is putting into place a plan that would prevent each top college prospect from attending next month's draft in New York, according to multiple league sources. The NFLPA already has contacted 17 top prospects who ordinarily would have received an invitation to attend the draft and informed them not to go.

Later Monday, a source said the edict is a recommendation, not an explicit order not to attend the draft. The source said the union plans to give the prospects the "same experience down the street."

If the draftees do not attend, when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the name of the first player selected, the player will not walk onto the stage at Radio City Music Hall as has been the custom. And the player will not be there to do interviews with ESPN or NFL Network. The draft will go on, but not in the manner in which it has been conducted before.

"As of right now, this is 100 percent happening," one source familiar with the NFL Players Association's thinking said earlier Monday. "This is going down."

The NFLPA even has gone so far as to consider placing the players on another competing network to do post-pick interviews, though no final decisions have been made. Another source said that, in this day and age, it's possible that the top prospects also could appear on a social media network platform, only.

"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. And, as always, it is the decision of the players and their families as to whether they attend," league spokesman Greg Aiello said in response to the report.

While the NFL has always paid the expenses for the invited players and their immediate family to attend the draft, the league said it would not pay players a fee in an attempt to have them present this year.

Last Friday, the union decertified, meaning it declared itself out of the business of representing players. In exchange for giving up their rights under labor law, the players are able to take their chances in court under antitrust law.

Although it no longer represents players, the NFLPA still exists "as a professional trade association with the mission of supporting the interests and rights of current and former professional football players," it said after decertifying.

Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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