Thanks, but No Thanks
Why are three top prospects skipping out on Chi-Town?
***This article originally appeared in the April edition of Three Point Stance Magazine. To subscribe to the magazine visit https://3psmag.com/subscribe/
Why are a handful of the games top prospects refusing to be in attendance to such a career defining moment? Three players who are likely Top 10 selections have stated they will not be attending the NFL Draft next week in Chicago. Is this a form of self-preservation to avoid the massive amounts of media attention, a silent protest against the iron fisted Commissioner Roger Goodell, or something as innocent as wanting to share the moment with their friends and family in their hometown? Maybe it is a bit of all three.
Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and Amari Cooper are consensus first rounders that have opted out of the festivities at draft week, while fans and the media seem to be offended by this the commish doesn’t seem to be phased by it.
“I’m not concerned with that,” Goodell said. “I think that it’s something we respect when a player says, ‘I’d like to be with my family on that day.’ It’s an important day for them also.”
Being the conspiracy theorist that I am, lets psychoanalyze why each of these draftees would decide to not attend.
Winston charmed the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February, and has been the model of poise in front of the camera, but considering the recent lawsuit filed last week in the alleged 2012 rape case, and the vast amount of media obligations Draft attendees (especially the presumed top pick) would undergo, Jamies staying at home in Alabama could help him save face and be focused on facing the Tampa Bay media instead of the throngs of national media in attendance.
If Winston is in fact the Number One overall selection, it would not be unprecedented. In 1994, “Big Daddy” Dan Wilkinson did not attend the draft when he was selected first by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Mariota opted to stay at home in Hawaii with his family instead of flying to Chicago, and as much as his home state is a part of who Marcus is, it would make sense to soak this moment in considering he might not see much of Hawaii for a while. However, with draft projections ranging from 2nd overall to as low as 10th, Marcus may be hoping to avoid an Aaron Rodgers or Brady Quinn situation where the camera pans to him after every pick and the added weight of when becomes visible.
Lastly, players are becoming more and more fed up with Roger Goodell. In 2013, a survey conducted by USA Today stated that a whopping 61% disapproved of the Commissioner, and that was before the Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Josh Gordon punishments. Perhaps, in a very small factor, players aren’t all that excited about being all bro huggy with the commish just to turn around and be fighting with him later.
Either way, players do not owe anything to the fans, teams, or the league to be in the building when their name is called, but for the eternally pessimistic, this is just more ammunition.