The annual NFLPA “Rookie Premiere” happens this weekend, with select draft picks making the trek to L.A. for the event. The requirements of the exercise triggered a social-media skirmish that resulted in ESPN’s Darren Rovell once again being stuffed in a locker.
Said Rovell on Twitter: “The NFLPA told at least one rookie that if he turned down today’s Rookie Premiere, where they take photos in their new team gear, they would not be let into their practice facility to work out.”
Said NFLPA spokesman George Atallah in response, also on Twitter: “NFLPA’s Rookie Premiere is more than a photo in the new team gear. You either don’t know that (which is hard to believe since you’re so smart) or you’re just being obtuse. 2. The CBA has dictated this rule since our union has had Rookie Premiere.”
Teams are required to allow the players to attend the Rookie Premiere if they want, and it makes sense that the players can’t choose both to not attend and to stay behind and work out at the team facility. Such a “voluntary” act would be every bit as “voluntary” as the “voluntary” offseason workouts.
And regardless of what happens, the Rookie Premiere is indeed baked into the CBA. For a sport that makes it hard for players to market themselves individually, there’s nothing wrong with taking a weekend to put on their new uniforms and pose for photos that will end up on trading cards and elsewhere.