We never understood many quirks of the NCAA's code of amateurism, but the one that we really don't get is the fatality of your declaration for the pros. Everyone else in college not on some kind of service-for-scholarship agreement gets the opportunity to hedge on this: you, the guy who might go to law school or pick up a second major, and guys like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Ted Bundy who all dropped out of school to pursue pressing career opportunities they could not forfeit in the name of education.
SBNation managed to get a blogger conference call with Roger Goodell and NFL lead negotiator Jeff Pash last week, and we asked about the guys caught in the lurch from the college side: the departing seniors and juniors who declared for the draft. The seniors aren't really the concern here. We're all out of the nest as seniors excepting those cowardly enough to , I dunno, dick around, go to grad school, pick up a bullshit job teaching English overseas, maybe have a long spell of waiting tables and drinking too much, throw a long spell of mental illness in there...you know, those assholes.
Everyone else has to go out and get a job, and that's fine. The juniors, though, face an impediment their peers in basketball do not: the forfeiture of their amateur status if they declare for the draft.
First, Goodell's answer. (We referred to the juniors in this situation as "forgotten.")
I don't think anybody has been overlooked in the context of this dispute and the negotiations. The incoming class of NFL players is important. They were all at the Combine a couple of weeks ago. Our clubs were obviously in contact with them during that period of time. And we're excited about the Draft as we are only a few weeks away from what is one of our biggest offseason events. I don't think anyone is being overlooked in this case. We know those players are going to be great NFL players and a big part of the success of the league. I can assure you nobody is being overlooked.
We were hoping for some kid of concrete examples of how the league was actually demonstrating this concern, and Joel Thorman suggested a couple, but it's clearly a bit of a non-answer. No, they're not being forgotten, and yeah, they're not being forgotten by not being forgotten. [Nod. NOD, DAMN YOU.]
For the moment, these juniors will have to do something no one else in the college environment has to do: forsake their scholarships to investigate their professional prospects, a prospect made infinitely more dicey with the suspension of operations of the single biggest employer in that market.This is not the NFL's concern, just as it would not be Home Depot's responsibility for telling you what to do while they sat around not hiring you for a position.
The intriguing part for us would be the NFL not seizing this moment to at least hint at a rollback of the antiquated rules surrounding juniors and their speculative draft status. There's little sense in a ban on juniors getting the opportunity to peek at their draft status since agent contact is already an epidemic and creating a black market. You make a black market and those who profit first are thieves with the moxie to call themselves legitimate businessmen, i.e. half of the sketchoids who swarm college players and attempt to break into the business via buddying up to them at 7-on-7 camps.
There is a better way to do this, and one that moves student-athletes to the thing they're ostensibly supposed to be: a college student whose talents alone dictate their availability and value in the labor market.*
*We all know this isn't what they are, but the whole point is in the attempt.