Stay away: Why to avoid the draft

March, 16, 2011
3/16/11
8:19
AM ET
I’m a top prospect who’s dreamed my whole life about walking across the stage in a hat bearing the logo of the team that just drafted me and shaking the commissioner’s hand.

But I don’t think I will attend the draft in New York City.

The decision won’t be out of any pre-membership loyalty to the NFLPA, however, and I won't allow it to sell it as such.

The decertified union, after all, is likely to work to reduce the money I can make when the lockout/labor impasse is over.

I’m not keen on helping the TV ratings and heightening the ceremony for a league that’s working hard to cut the salaries of high draft picks as part of a new deal.

And the decertified union isn’t against that change -- a change that means if I am drafted high, I stand to make significantly less from my first contract than guys before me in the same slot.

The decertified union wants that money to be redistributed to veterans, to them, and that means just from the timing of being eligible for this draft I will suffer.

The rationale for such things may make sense -- the author of this post and 95 percent of people who pay attention think high picks get guarantees that are far too rich. But the hit to my bank account is no less painful.

It used to be I could make enough to be set for life even if I bust. Moving forward, will that scenario remain the same? Why shouldn't I have that luxury? If it was good enough for Akili Smith, Lawrence Phillips, Andre Ware, Mike Mamula and Curtis Enis, why not me?

I don’t want to shake the hand of the guy heading one side that wants my salary slashed. I don’t want to be celebrated for not doing so by my soon-to-be-peers who align with the commissioner’s thinking on the issue.

So, we’ll have a big bash at my house. No matter what my initial salary is, I’ll be able to repay that bill.

And we’ll see just how big of a union guy I am once things are sorted out and the NFLPA pieces itself back together.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter
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