No Need To Bash The Record Ninety-Eight Underclassmen Declaring For NFL Draft

Jan 19 2014, 4:35pm CST | by

No Need To Bash The Record Ninety-Eight Underclassmen Declaring For NFL Draft

The NFL announced that a total of ninety-eight former college football players have been granted special eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft.  If the NFL were to include the four players who are technically early-entrants who declared for the NFL Draft, but have already graduated (University of Southern California safety Dion Bailey, Arizona State LB/DE Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and University of Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard), the number of underclassmen hoping to play in the NFL next year jumps to a whopping total of 102.  Compare that number to seventy-three early-entrants in 2013, sixty-five in 2012 and a conservative forty underclassmen taking the risk of being selected by a team in 2007.  Why the sudden increase?

It is all about the money.  Many of those underclassmen declaring early for the NFL Draft would leave for the professional ranks much earlier if they had the choice.  Football players originate from divergent socioeconomic backgrounds.  Those that grew up in poor conditions and desire to support their struggling families have a need to earn a living as quickly as possible.  Further, players themselves tend to start their own families at an early age and sometimes have children to provide for while they are performing (without compensation beyond a traditional scholarship) for their respective universities.

Players simply do not have a choice.  They are bound by an inverse statute of limitations of sorts.  Football players are not eligible for the NFL Draft until three years have elapsed since they graduated from high school (or since they would have normally graduated with their class).  This “age restriction” rule was challenged by former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who ultimately lost his case against the NFL on the basis that the restriction was instituted as a result of standard collective bargaining negotiations between the NFL Players Association (tasked with bargaining on behalf of NFL players) and the NFL (See Clarett v. Nat’l Football League, 369 F.3d 124 (2d Cir. 2004), cert. denied, 125 S. Ct. 1728 (2005)).  If and/or until another challenge is waged in the judicial system, the age restriction will remain in effect and players will have no choice but to wait until three years pass after graduating from high school to declare for the NFL Draft.

This is but one reason for a large number of players declaring for the NFL Draft as underclassmen; many would declare at an earlier age if given the choice.  Becoming a professional immediately after high school is rather common in the sport of baseball, wherein high school seniors are scouted by professional scouts and oftentimes sign contracts with Major League Baseball organizations before stepping foot onto a college campus.  There is a clear understanding that one takes the money when it is on the table (if the player is properly valued by the club) and begins to perform at an early age, enhancing the potential of reaching salary arbitration eligibility and eventually free agent status, when the marketplace dictates the price of one’s services.

Similarly, football players wish to navigate to second contract negotiations as expeditiously as possible.  Reporters are quick to blame (or at a minimum, explain) the influx of underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft on the newest iteration of the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, which created what is considered to be a form of a rookie wage-scale that reduced the amount of guaranteed money available for first-round selections.  It may be more of a correlation than causation.  Lowered guarantees or not, players want to reach the NFL and start making money — bottom-line — and whether the NFL Draft Advisory Board provides a player a first-round grade or predicts that the player will be selected after the third round, that player is more likely to test the waters today than six years ago.

Why not?  Colleges are not disappearing anytime soon.  Thus, individuals who declare for the NFL Draft before earning a degree will have the opportunity to go back to school to finish of their coursework.  However, this is a determination that should be made with proper counsel.  A student-athlete who forfeits his scholarship to go pro will likely not receive any monetary assistance should he decide to go back to school at a later date to complete his degree.  That serves as the major knock to players leaving school early based on professional aspirations.

There may also be rare circumstances where a player is able to stay in college for an additional year and raise his draft grade from undrafted to late-round pick.  However, some would argue that it is better to go undrafted and choose the team that best fits the player instead of being trapped by an inefficient relationship.  Further, it is less common for a player to drastically improve his stock between his junior and senior season than many would have the general public believe.  Thus, the immediate reward absorbs the inherent risk of leaving school early for the pros.  That is the true reason why so many players are posturing to turn pro at an earlier age.

Meanwhile, Phil Savage, executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl predicts a lot of heartbreak for the 102 early-entrants in this year’s NFL Draft.  Yet, the same can be said for those who spent an extra year in school and do not hear their name called within one of the seven rounds.  ”Everybody sells these kids a song and a dance,” Savage said to the Pensacola News Journal.  ”You’re all going to become millionaires. And the reality is, the life span in the NFL is three and four years.”  That is simply the reality of the NFL.  Teams will shuffle through players for the sheer reason that they wish to keep a cheap labor force and operate within the confines of an artificial salary cap.  Whether a player enters the league as an underclassmen or graduate does not alter the formula.

There are 102 players (including the four that already graduated) who will wait anxiously to hear their names called during the 2014 NFL Draft.  Expect this number to increase in future years.  NFL reporter Jason Cole says, “the real kick in the teeth for players is going to be what they see happen in the next few months.”  I respectfully disagree.  Some players may be sold promises, but I promise them this: if the NFL is your goal and you think you can prove your worth over the next few months, go live out your dream.  The qualification on that statement is that said players should understand that they may not play a down in the NFL and could possibly be forced to pay their way to eventually earn a degree.

Darren Heitner is a Partner at Wolfe Law Miami, P.A. in Miami, Florida, Founder of Sports Agent Blog Professor of Sport Agency Management at Indiana University and author of a forthcoming book, How to Play the Game published by the American Bar Association.  Learn more about him at http://www.darrenheitner.com.

Follow @DarrenHeitner

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

First Italian female astronaut ready for spaceflight
Rome, Nov 24 (IANS) History will be made Monday with the first ever Italian female astronaut set to go into space for a mission on board the International Space Station (ISS).
 
 
Mummy wearing jewellery unearthed in Egypt
London, Nov 23 (IANS) Spanish archaeologists have discovered about 4,000 years old female mummy wearing rare jewellery in Egypt.
 
 
Exercise and fasting could boost brain's functions
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) Exercise along with occasional fasting is good for boosting the brain's neurons, shows a new research.
 
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

First Italian female astronaut ready for spaceflight
Rome, Nov 24 (IANS) History will be made Monday with the first ever Italian female astronaut set to go into space for a mission on board the International Space Station (ISS). Samantha Cristoforetti, a captain in the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Jennifer Aniston disses Kim Kardashian West's nude photoshoot
Jennifer Aniston has joked that she was one of the ''original'' women who posed nude for a magazine. The 'Horrible Bosses' star - who exposed her bottom on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1996 - compared herself...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kris Jenner defends Corey Gamble over stalking allegations
Kris Jenner has defended her boyfriend over stalking allegations. The 59-year-old 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' star - who is currently dating 33-year-old Corey Gamble, following her separation from Bruce Jenner -...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Selena Gomez 'emotional' ahead of American Music Awards
Selena Gomez is ''emotional'' ahead of her performance at the American Music Awards tonight (11.23.14). The 'Come And Get It' hitmaker posted a black and white Instagram video of her at the rehearsals for the AMA's,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Amber Heard 'unhappy' with Johnny Depp
Amber Heard thinks Johnny Depp made a ''fool'' of himself. The 28-year-old actress and model - who is engaged to the 'Transcendence' star - is ''unhappy'' with her fiance's strange presentation at the Hollywood Film...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
One Direction members upset with 'Steal My Girl' performance
London, Nov 24 (IANS) The members of English pop band One Direction felt disappointed when their single "Steal My Girl" didn't make it to number one spot on Britain's music charts. The band, which comprises of members...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Benedict Cumberbatch's hope for new fiancee
Benedict Cumberbatch thinks his fans will like his fiancee. The 'Imitation Game' star - who recently revealed he was engaged to Sophie Hunter - believes his loyal fans will love his future bride because they love him....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kate Hudson plans birthday presents
Kate Hudson plans her mother's birthday presents years in advance. The 'Almost Famous' star has revealed that she had been planning for years what present to get her mother, Goldie Hawn, for her 69th birthday, which...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Boko Haram kills 48 Nigerian fishermen
Abuja, Nov 23 (IANS) Members of Nigeria's armed terrorist group Boko Haram have killed 48 people in an attack on fish sellers near the border with Chad, a media report said Sunday. The attack took place Thursday, but...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
45 killed in Afghanistan suicide attack
Kabul, Nov 23 (IANS) At least 45 people were killed and 60 wounded Sunday in a suicide bomb attack at a volleyball ground in Afghanistan's Paktika province, officials said. "Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani...
Read more on Politics Balla