KANSAS CITY, MO.—For football players preparing for a career in the NFL, what should be one of the most exciting times of their lives is suddenly one of the most uncertain, as the league's labor troubles has put a cloud over this year's draft.
On Thursday, six NFL head coaches and other team and league officials visited the University of Missouri campus to evaluate the skills of 19 NFL hopefuls, including former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert, who could be drafted in the first round. Gabbert has received a lot of attention from scouts, but now he may be asked by the NFL Players Association to not go to the NFL Draft in New York City if the union does not have an labor agreement with the league.
Gabbert says he hopes he doesn't have to choose between a memorable moment he's been working toward his whole life or standing up for his fellow professional players.
"We're going to have pro day we're still going to have the draft," said Gabbert. "Chips are gong to fall where they may, and like I said, they're going to reach an agreement. There's too much money on the line for them to lockout the whole season. I just come out here, have fun, throw the football around and impress some coaches."
Players say it's every kid's dream to be up on that stage when your name is called on NFL Draft day. On the other hand, players also recognize the value of sticking together as a team, to get an agreement that provides more money and security for the next generation of pro players.
Another highly touted player, Mizzou defensive end Aldon Smith says he hasn't been invited to the draft yet, but understands the decision whether to attend or not may have consequences with other players. As a result, he says he's not taking anything for granted.
"Everybody who went there before, everyone who went before you and shook hands with Roger Goodell and all that, I think that's a special moment for anybody who's making that transition," said Smith.