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The 5 O'Clock Club: Is the NFL draft fair for players?

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is a monopoly business that operates in a fairly unique environment. The owners argue that many of the special rules that apply to the league are necessary, but from a player’s perspective, the rules may seem unfair.

Not many businesses can tell prospective employees how many years they have to attend college before they are eligible for a job interview.

And it’s a special business model that allows 32 teams to select player from a pool of those eligible and present them with a “take it or leave it” choice of playing for the team that made the pick, or not playing at all.

What’s really stunning about it is that most players will say that it’s “an honor” to be selected in the draft and forced to move to a new city to take up the profession of football.

After being selected, the player is presented with a contract whose terms are pretty much pre-determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated by the NFLPA — a labor association they aren’t yet members of. They have to play under that contract for 3 to 5 years before getting the opportunity to make their first real choice about where to play, and how much money they will play for.

So, to summarize: any young man who wants to play meaningful professional football in the United States has to first risk injury and play for free for a number of years in a college program, then go through a process in which he is told what city he has to move to & which team he has to play for, and he’ll be 3 or 4 years into the typically short career that the NFL offers before he can meaningfully negotiate terms of his employment or choose where he wants to work (from the limited 32 choices available).

The draft, free agency, salary cap and other special provisions that allow the NFL to carry on business are designed to ‘promote competition and maintain competitive balance’ all ‘for the good of the game’.

Is this fair?

Does the existence of the NFLPA make all of this okay?

Does this type of indentured servitude have any place in the 21st century?


What’s your opinion?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    The NFL draft, free agency, salary cap, and the rest are necessary to the protection & promotion of the game. That’s why these young men get the huge paydays for playing a game.
    (83 votes)
  • 16%
    This is simple exploitation of young men who, for the most part, don’t have other options
    (34 votes)
  • 24%
    Dude, we got Jonathan Allen, so I’m happy
    (51 votes)
  • 20%
    Wake me when the season starts
    (44 votes)
212 votes total Vote Now