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Rich Paul’s message to teams about Bronny James could be a sign of things to come for the NFL

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Rich Paul’s message to teams about Bronny James could be a sign of things to come for the NFL

There have been plenty of takes and comments about the decision of the Los Angeles Lakers to draft Bronny James, the son of LeBron James. Here’s one that is relevant to the NFL.

Agent Rich Paul reportedly told other teams not to draft Bronny James, explaining that if they did he’d play in Australia.

While there’s no Australian equivalent for NFL players, the point is that James and his agent identified an alternative, were willing to pursue it, and let teams know about it.

And no one called his bluff. Why would they? Teams want players who want to be there. The relationship gets off to a horrible start if the player arrives kicking and screaming. Or if he doesn’t arrive at all.

When talking about NFL draft power plays, we typically mention John Elway and Eli Manning. But it was Bo Jackson who told the Buccaneers in 1986, “Don’t draft me. I’m going to play baseball.” They did anyway. And he didn’t show up. (The Raiders took a seventh-round flier on him the following year.)

As more players who are making more money in college make it to the draft, they’ll become less bashful about telling teams how it’s going to be. About bucking the outdated notion that it’s “an honor and a privilege” to be on the wrong end of the pro football Harry Potter sorting hat, sent to a place they don’t want to live to play for a team they don’t want to join.

It’s overdue. It’s inevitable. I’m rooting for it, in part because I love a good story — and in part because we’ve seen NFL careers derailed by starting out with a dysfunctional organization.

If that happens to enough dysfunctional organizations, maybe they’ll make a real effort to no longer be dysfunctional.

Football people complain from time to time about players who seem entitled. Frankly, nothing says “entitled” like a crappy franchise taking solace in the fact that failure gives them automatic dibs on the best of the best incoming players.

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