College Football Players' Decisions To Skip Bowl Games Garner Support, Some Criticism
Two of college football's star running backs, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and LSU's Leonard Fournette, have said they won't play in their respective bowl games, decisions that have prompted some debate in the football world.
On Friday, Fournette, who is dealing with a nagging ankle injury, announced his decision to skip LSU's Citrus Bowl appearance against Louisville, saying, "It's best for my future." On Monday, McCaffrey tweeted he would to sit out Stanford's Sun Bowl game against North Carolina, calling it a "very tough decision."
The reasoning behind the players' decision to skip nonplayoff postseason games goes like this: As projected first-round draft picks, they've already proven their worth to NFL scouts over multiple seasons, so they don't have much to gain from playing in one more game — especially when that game won't give them a shot at the National Championship. They would, however, have plenty to lose. Playing in the bowl game would put them at risk of suffering potentially debilitating injuries that could cost them their careers or millions in NFL salaries.
This isn't idle worry.
In last season's Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith tore ligaments in his knee, and as a result he fell from a predicted top-five NFL draft pick to the second round before the Dallas Cowboys drafted him. This cost him millions of dollars in salary, and he still hasn't played a down of professional football.
Say Jaylon Smith went 5th overall. He'd get a fully guaranteed 4-yr, $23.5M deal. Wound up with a 4-yr, $6.5M ($4.5M guar) deal instead.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 19, 2016
Despite this, some college football fans and pundits maintain that skipping bowl games is selfish. Former Ohio State star and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott tweeted his condemnation of football players who opt out of postseason games.
All these young guys deciding to skip their bowl games 🤔.I would do anything to play one more time with my brothers in that scarlet and gray— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) December 19, 2016
Elliott later qualified his criticism, saying it "makes sense" for Fournette and McCaffrey to sit out because they had been dealing with injuries.
Elliott isn't alone in his thinking, but in light of the growing push to pay college athletes in revenue sports, traditional attitudes about college football are shifting. And many people have come out in support of the athletes' decisions to sit out. Here are a few:
The Sun Bowl is Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. ET and the Citrus Bowl is Dec. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.
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