It would appear the NFL is doing a hard-press on the rookie Class of 2011 to attend the draft. While the players association not too long ago hoped the rookies wouldn’t attend the draft later this month, as many as 18 have been sent offers to attend the draft in person, which may be a list so exhaustive that some of the players aren’t guaranteed to be drafted in the first round.
The 17 players that have acknowledged being invited and that they plan to attend include quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, running back Mark Ingram, wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones, offensive tackle Tyron Smith, defensive linemen Da’Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, Cameron Jordan, Adrian Clayborn, J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith and Corey Liuget, linebackers Von Miller and Akeem Ayers and cornerback Prince Amukamara.
For years, the NFL invited about a dozen or so players, but changed the process after some embarrassing moments with players remaining in the Green Room forever, highlighted by Brady Quinn’s 2007 odyssey – which included a very miffed fiancée who may have witnessed her wedding rock getting downsized with each pick. After the Quinn debacle, the number of players invited dropped to those who were all but locks to go in the top 10-15 picks.
That would appear to have changed. While most (if not all) of the players are expected to go in the first round, the sheer dearth of the players is a sign that the NFL wants to make a big splash with its newest players, who, until they sign contracts, won’t be members of the group formerly known as the players union.
Whether an attempt to steal the thunder from the players or not, it would appear to be working. With so many players expected to attend the draft, the league would appear to have a momentary upper hand over the players in their current standoff – at least in part of getting rookies to reject the plans of the players association to boycott the draft and show up for a grip-and-grin photo with Roger Goodell.
Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Zellers (IR, Maple Grove) is among the growing number of legislative leaders saying that any Vikings stadium bill is going to require a local government partner – whether Ramsey County, Hennepin County or the City of Minneapolis – if it is going to get serious consideration. Both Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch (IR, Buffalo) have said they won’t put too much focus on a stadium bill until they get their current budget deficit dealt with. A stadium bill is expected to be introduced this week.
The New York Jets officially responded in court documents to a charge being brought against Brett Favre by massage therapists seeking to sue Favre for sending lewd text messages to them. The Jets said the two therapists – Shannon O’Toole and Christina Scavo – have embellished their relationship with the team, claiming they worked a combined total of five days for the team and were far from being employees. A court date to hear filings is expected this week. In their civil suit, both women are seeking unspecified damages from Favre and the team, claiming that neither worked for the team after they allegedly received and rejected Favre’s advances.
From the Department of Redundancy Department comes this: The NFL’s official website has a story in its current rotation highlighting that Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is quoted as saying the Vikings quarterback job is “going to be an open competition.” Considering Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar are the only QBs currently under contract, an open competition seems not only likely, but inevitable, especially if the team doesn't sign a veteran.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.