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Mini-Camp begins with a WTF from the NFL

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Dumb ass
This is, quite possibly, the stupidest excuse I've ever heard from the NFL: Apparently, Colts first round pick Anthony Gonzalez cannot attend mini-camp because the NFL wants him to attend Reebok's NFL Player Rookie Premier.

That's right, you heard me.

The NFL doesn't want a first round pick to practice with his team because of a friggin' SHOE SALES EVENT!

Now, mind you, when Gonzalez was invited to this event he declined it, according to a Indianapolis Star report. He declined because (duh!) he wanted to attend mini-camp. However, the NFL stepped in and said the invitation will be honored.

WHAT?!

It's an invitation dumb asses! If a person doesn't want to go, he doesn't have to. Gonzalez is not under contract yet, so he has no obligation to the NFL or any of its stupid events. Basically, it isn't an invitation, because invitations can be declined. This was an order from the NFL. The reason the NFL wants Gonzalez to go is because this event is a big deal for the NFL. Reebock is a huge sponsor.

Sorry, but that's not good enough for us fans. We don't give a crap about Reebock, its shoes, or how much money it gives the NFL. Reebock doesn't  pay to watch the NFL games, buy NFL merchandise, or keep this league above leagues like the MLB and NBA.

We fans do.

And we fans want to see Anthony Gonzalez in mini-camp catching passes from Peyton Manning, not selling shoes for friggin' Reebock. This is a complete joke, and if I'm the Colts and Jim Irsay I'm livid. It would make more sense for the Colts to just tell Gonzalez to skip the event. If the NFL fines him, the Colts pay the fine. If the NFL suspends him, sue the NFL. I'd love to see their defense both in the eyes of the public and an arbitrator.

Bottom line, the NFL really, really screwed up on this one. It is totally and completely unacceptable that Gonzalez cannot attend mini-camp, and the NFL is 100% at fault.

Update [2007-5-18 13:49:33 by BigBlueShoe]: Tip to Colt4Life for posting this blurb in the comments from PFT:

Only the Packers and the Colts are conducting full-squad mandatory minicamps this weekend. And we have a feeling that some other organizations had the foresight to check the NFL calendar in picking the dates for the full-squad camp.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Ohio State's Anthony Gonzalez is facing the same problem.

"Gonzo is distraught,'' agent Mike McCartney said. "He wants to play football.''

But, unless the NFL has changed its rule regarding practice participation of players whose schools have not yet conducted graduation ceremonies, Gonzo would be gone this weekend, anyway. As of last year at this time, the rule was that a rookie could attend one minicamp before graduation at the university he attended. Because Gonzo attended the rookie camp two weeks ago, he couldn't be there this weekend even if he hadn't been invited to attend the L.A. event. It's one of the basic realities of drafting a player from Ohio State or one of the other schools with June graduations.

There are two problems with Mike Florio's claims here:
  • I've looked at the ammended CBA, and there is nothing there that states that a drafted rookie who attends one mini-camp prior to graduation cannot attend a additional mini-camp prior to graduation. If that were the case, both Quinn Pitcock and Roy Hall (both drafted from OSU) would also be out for mini-camp this weekend. QP and Hall attended rookie camp a week ago with Gonzo, and since there is no news that QP and Hall aren't attending this weekend's camp it suggests Florio's claim is pulled straight out of his rear.
  • Also, from the wording in the CBA, it seems to say nothing about rookies being "required" to go to this dumb event::
    Invited Rookies will be permitted by their respective Clubs to attend the NFL Players Rookie Premiere provided that: (i) such event is scheduled during the month of May; (ii) such event encompasses a maximum of four consecutive days, including both a Saturday and a Sunday; and (iii) the NFLPA provides the Management Council with the dates for the next Rookie Premiere not later than February 1 of each year.
    The language suggests the club (ie, the Colts) are the ones who can tell the NFL to F off and let their rookie practice. But whatever, the bottom line is the NFL Management Council should let rookies decline the "invitation." If the team is ok with letting him go, that's fine. But that is not how this looks. It's a stupid event no one cares about (save Reebock, which simply reinforces the statement that NO ONE cares about the event), and Gonzo should be in Indy this week, period.