By Luke Johnson
Christian McCaffrey essentially gave the middle finger to the millions of people who supported him at Stanford and anyone who ever dreamt of winning a bowl game for a major college football program.
Yesterday morning, the Stanford junior running back tweeted his decision to forego the Hyundai Sun Bowl to get a head start on preparing for the NFL draft.
At this point, he might as well huddle up all his teammates, stand on top of a ladder and defecate on them. They apparently aren’t good enough for him, and neither are his coaches or his fans because the most important game of their season isn’t important enough to McCaffrey.
His coaches and teammates said they’re cool with his decision, but that’s because they are expected to be politically correct every second of every day.
Coaches and athletes are almost thought of as robots. If they express any sort of grievances, they are criticized by the public and insulting memes go viral on the internet. Of course head coach David Shaw is going to support McCaffrey, because going against him could potentially turn away top recruits who are considering doing the same thing.
It pains me to see the sport I love most decline in popularity.
The long-term health ramifications of head injuries have caused there to be less participation in youth football, understandably. And now, for the first time in decades, NFL TV ratings have descended.
The only thing encouraging parents keep their kids in youth football is that it builds character and teaches life lessons. In my first year of playing tackle football the head coach introduced me to the word “adversity,” and told the team that this was going to be a word we would face all season.
That was certainly an understatement.
More than half our roster quit or had to sit out due to grades and on top of that, our offensive coordinator left after four games while we were undefeated.
Those who remained on the team persevered, learning how get back up after getting knocked down, literally and figuratively.
McCaffrey’s decision goes against all of that, because he isn’t finishing what he started. This act of selfishness is reinforcing the notion that kids shouldn’t play football.
For those who have said this isn’t selfish, here is the definition, “Selfish: Adj. Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself … without regard for others.”
Thank you, Merriam-Webster.
People argue that this is a “business decision,” and that the NCAA and NFL are businesses. That may be partially true, but as a fan I don’t want to watch football players doing business. I want to watch two teams with intensifying passion for the game giving their all on the field. If I wanted to watch people doing business, I’d go to Google headquarters and look at people sitting in front of computers and playing ping pong during down time.
This is the world we live in now. People value what’s fake over what’s real. People value monetary more than dignity, relationships and appreciation. Some high school athletes don’t care about his or her team or teammates and are only playing for scholarships.
I’ve watched the build up to this situation, and I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. In 2013, several members in the media advocated for Jadeveon Clowney to sit out his junior season at South Carolina to not risk injury before the NFL draft. He ended up participating physically, but he didn’t look like he was committed mentally. Either way, he was selected No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans in 2014, but has yet to live up to the hype.
This year I watched it up close and personal. Many people encouraged the No. 1 high school recruit in the country, Najee Harris of Antioch, to not play his senior season. They said that as if he had nothing to gain — as if he played football for 20 years, earned his Ph.D and knew everything there is to know.
Stanford did everything it could do for McCaffrey.
The university may not be able to pay him, but it gave him an opportunity to showcase his talents while attending classes — creating a resume for the next level.
The biggest argument coming from the opposing side is that McCaffrey could get hurt during the bowl game and end his career before getting paid. But according to ESPN, he has an insurance policy that will provide him with $5 million if he has a career-ending injury or $3 million if an injury causes him to be drafted less than 40th overall.
Obviously, the Sun Bowl isn’t as prestigious as a national championship, but only four of 128 FBS teams make the playoff — opposed to the NBA and NHL Playoffs which consists of over half the teams in those organizations.
McCaffrey is basically saying Stanford didn’t have a good enough season for him to play, so where does the quitting stop? Are players going to sit during non-conference games and eventually entire seasons?
This is going to be a problem for the NCAA next year, unless it does something about it.
If the NCAA doesn’t want this to snowball, it needs to do these two things: revoke scholarships from players who take healthy scratches and start paying players.
For an opposing opinion, check out Sandeep Chandok’s article: