In my newsletter for parents of 2015 NFL draft prospects and the prospects themselves, I’ve been talking a lot about the all-star game process. How do invitations work? When do they come out? Who are they sent to? What if I don’t accept? What if I accept later? There are dozens of questions associated with the all-star process, and plenty at stake for those who don’t make the right moves, act promptly, etc.

These recent editions of my newsletter have been met with plenty of emails, calls and texts from readers. I’m glad to get these questions. It’s much better to handle these issues now, in early November, than some time in late December or even early January, when it’s far too late. Whenever I’m talking to parents concerned about their sons’ place in the process, it reminds me of January 2007.

I was working on my first-ever game here in Houston, the Inta Juice North-South All-Star Classic. It was pretty heady stuff for me back then, as I’d just launched ITL a few short years beforehand and I was already playing a central role in filling the rosters of a game that real NFL scouts would attend. It was a fun fall and winter. Part of what made it fun was that there were two games we were competing against for talent, one in Las Vegas and one in El Paso.

At times, we would hear that others were saying our game wouldn’t be played. This infuriated us, but there was little we could do about it. At the same time, we were hearing that the other two games wouldn’t be played. We had no way to know if this was true or not, though I’ll admit we had a lot of fun considering the possibilities of one or both games falling through.

As the weeks progressed, we moved closer and closer to the game itself in early January. We were scheduled head-to-head with two contests that year, the one in Las Vegas and the Hula Bowl in Honolulu (which, ironically, I would run the following year). On the Friday before our players were scheduled to start arriving on Sunday, we started to get credible evidence that the Las Vegas game would, indeed, be cancelled. Very soon, the phone calls started poring into our office line.

We fielded probably 70-80 calls that Friday night from people, mostly parents and the players themselves, that were irate, devastated, shocked, tearful, or all of the above. We wound up taking calls until around 1 a.m., then trudged home, bleary-eyed and empty. But the real calls started the next day.

When we arrived at the office that Saturday, we had more than a hundred messages (there’s no telling how many actual calls we had received). The voice mails they left were an incredible mess. Callers talked of suing the organizers of the Las Vegas game. They boasted about how scouts were infatuated with their sons, who would be a credit to our game. They begged. They pleaded. They threatened. Sometimes, they threatened, then called back, apologizing and begging to be invited. Some offered money. Some parents cried during the message. Some screamed. It was amazing. We wanted to help, but we were trapped. We wound up adding a handful to our roster, but couldn’t help many. The others, I guess, tried different options, but I doubt many of them found another game.

This wasn’t a life-or-death situation, but it sure felt that way to those parents and those players. And while no one could have predicted that the Vegas game would fail, and so late in the process, it does help to get as educated as possible on these games and really know the ins and outs of things.

If you’re a parent who’s got questions, I’m here to help. Reach me at nstratton@insidetheleague.com

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