On the last day that undergraduate players can declare for the 2011 NFL Draft NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has no so subtly suggested that any player that can should stay in school.  The impending lockout for the 2011 NFL season could mean that players drafted in April wouldn’t see a paycheck for some time and Smith wants to make sure college athletes are prepared for that:

It’s important that college football players consider the value of their education, the limited career of every NFL player, and what is best for them and their families in the long run. The business of football means short careers and a tremendous opportunity as an athlete and business person. A degree lasts a lifetime. The owners have prepared for a lockout and our players have prepared for it. College players, as potential professionals in the current labor climate, should prepare and make decisions with that in mind.

That roughly translates as “you won’t be getting paid to play football next year so you might as well keep getting free room and board somewhere.”   Players like Cam Newton and Nick Fairley of Auburn, Mark Ingram of Alabama and AJ Green from Georgia are opting to enter the draft in part because this will likely be the last draft before a rookie salary cap is put in place.  Smith’s comments provide a sobering counterpoint to that opportunity with the reminder that NFL careers can fade fast.

Via The Early Lead