NFL Draft: Pros & Cons of Jameis Winston & Marcus Mariota Not Attending
Former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota announced this week that he plans not to attend the NFL Draft in Chicago on April 30. Mariota said, according to ESPN.com, that it is important to him to spend this big moment with his family.
This decision comes two weeks after former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston stated he also would not attend the draft according to Sports Illustrated.
If Winston doesn't change his mind and does indeed become the No. 1 pick this year, it will be the first time since 1994 where the No. 1 overall selection was not in attendance.
This could be a good thing for the league because it avoids the situation where Winston comes on stage as the No. 1 pick and commissoner Roger Goodell must give him a hug. Both Winston and Goodell haven't exactly been the public's darling over the last 12 months.
That might be the understatement of the year.
Others, however, have argued Winston and Mariota shouldn't be allowed to 'skip' the NFL event that anoints them the face of a franchise.
The public reasoning for the decision is that Winston prefers to be with his family in Alabama, which is admirable. But the underlying story line is that it's also a chance for Winston to avoid any (further) backlash as he's being introduced as a pro quarterback for the first time.
That shouldn't be acceptable to the league, and it isn't a good idea for Winston, either.
Some might say Winston has a responsibility to be there after all that's happened. If the Buccaneers feel comfortable enough to make Winston the face of their franchise, then Winston should feel obligated to represent the franchise in person in one of its biggest moments.
We can understand if circumstances prohibit Winston's most important loved ones from traveling to Chicago to join him. If there are no such circumstances, then the NFL should make every concession to Winston to help them all be there, just as it has done with families of every prominent prospect in the past.
It's that important for Winston to be there, for everyone. After what the league and Winston have been through since the last draft, his selection wouldn't be the same unless it ends with him firmly shaking Goodell's hand.
They are quarterbacks, right? Faces of the franchise? Well, attending the draft would be a good step toward showing they're ready to handle the big time like big boys. It's a big business, and they are poised to reap some major rewards from a league that generates more than $11 billion in annual revenues. Skipping the draft comes off as being spoiled while wrapped in a sense of entitlement.
Iyer and Bell's points are valid. If Winston and Mariota wish to be NFL leaders, they can't really hide themselves from fans' reactions and the TV cameras. Winston might be trying to prevent getting booed at the draft while Mariota could be preparing for the possibility of falling in the draft and hoping to avoid the embarrassment that comes with that.
At least in Mariota's case, however, is seems like he is genuine in his desire to watch and celebrate with his family, and it is not like he hasn't invited ESPN and NFL Network cameras into his home for the event. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Mariota plans to do that.
Although Iyer and Bell bring up solid points, at the end of the day, it should be each player's decision as to whether or not they attend the NFL Draft. A college graduate isn't required to attend the ceremony. It's highly unusual not to, but each person has the right to that decision, and to suggest the 'fan experience' isn't the same because they miss out on the Winston/Mariota-Goodell hug is asinine.
How entitled of a society have we become to suggest that as a fan, our draft experience is deeply hurt by which players are in attendance for us to watch on TV?