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Players aren't considered players until after the draft

The report that the organization formerly known as the players’ union could be urging college players to boycott the draft in New York this year got me thinking about the protocol of the event … particularly the behind the scenes stuff.

We’ve all watched the draft over the years and figured out who was going to be picked next based on whose phone was ringing. Usually a player looks at the number, gives a big smile, and answers. On the other end is a coach or a general manager who says something corny like “How do you feel about becoming a (fill in the team), son?”

The conversation lasts a few minutes, they hang up, and they see each other at rookie minicamp in a week or so.

But if there is a lockout in place for this year’s draft, and team management and coaches are not supposed to be in any contact with players, will there still be that traditional phone call? Or will teams simply hand in their card, have it announced at the podium, and figure they’ll catch up and ask the kid how it feels to be in the NFL when there’s a new CBA?

I was told tonight that the draft will go on as usual until … the draft is over. In other words, players aren’t considered players until the final selection is made. Mr. Irrelevant will suddenly have some relevance.

Of course a lot could happen between now and then. The preliminary hearing for the injunction to block the lockout is April 6, and while it could take a few weeks for the court to come to a decision, there’s a chance it could be overturned by the time of the draft. There’s also a chance that the sides will come to an agreement on their own, although that seems unlikely.

But at the very least, we’ll still get to see a player’s face light up when he looks at the incoming number on his cell and realizes that those are his lottery numbers coming up big. The only difference is that at the end of the conversation, instead of saying “See you at rookie minicamp,” the coach or general manager will have to say “Talk to you … whenever.”

Although I do have to wonder if Von Miller will get a call.

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