The public relations digs from both sides in the labor dispute have hit full tilt since the lockout began, with neither side wanting to miss an opportunity to win additional public sentiment.
You can almost feel the NFL and the players looking at the invisible pendulumn swinging and just waiting for an opportunity to push gravity in their favor.
The NFLPA immediately retreated amid strong backlash when word leaked out that the union would encourage prospects invited to the draft to skip the event at Radio City Music Hall and instead attend union-sponsored events in NYC.
Sensing the momentum, the NFL is going to squeeze every ounce of PR juice out of the door opened by the NFLPA's slip up. The league announced that a record 25 prospects have accepted invitations to attend Thursday night's first round festivities in primetime.
That's not including several who were invited but have chosen to stay home to watch the first round with their families, including quarterbacks Jake Locker and Colin Kaepernick. But it does include a host of players considered fringe first-round prospects by NFLDraftScout.com.
It could make for an uncomfortable scene late in the stanza as 5-6 prospects will likely be sitting in the "green room" as commentators discuss what a great value they'll make 24 hours later. Among those could be Kentucky WR Randall Cobb, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Baylor OL Danny Watkins and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams. And a few others could slide into the category as the night wears on.
Boston College LB Mark Herzlich will also be in attendance, but the cancer survivor has an inspirational story and isn't expected to be selected until at least the middle rounds (he's projected as a sixth-round value by NFLDraftScout.com.
Update: The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora reported that Herzlich will be announced with the others and take part in a group photo, but then will be allowed to stay as long as he likes or leave to be with friends and family. That's a sensible approach for a compelling prospect who likely won't hear his name called until Saturday - if at all.
--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
NFL's PR play will create awkward draft viewing
Posted on: April 25, 2011 1:45 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 7:41 pm