One of the most talked about issues around college football right now is the decision of running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey to sit out their respective teams’ bowl game in order to prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft, according to Pro Football Talk. Stanford is scheduled to face North Carolina in the Sun Bowl on December 30 while the LSU Tigers are scheduled to face the Louisville Cardinals in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on December 31.
Many former players, coaches, and fans believe that both McCaffrey and Fournette are being selfish and should participate in their bowl games with their teams. University of Miami head coach Mark Richt and Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott were two of the biggest names to speak out about the running backs skipping their bowl games.
Miami coach Mark Richt has some thoughts on players skipping bowl games to focus on the NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/dS9mc54DM6
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) December 21, 2016
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
Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, widely projected to be the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft, announced that he would be playing in the 2016 AdvoCare Texas Bowl against Kansas State on Wednesday, December 28. Garrett also had some jokes about Fournette when he found out that Leonard would be sitting out LSU’s bowl game.
Myles Garrett on Leonard Fournette skipping the bowl game: “Leonard’s been trying to leave since sophomore year.”
— Santa Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 20, 2016
While I understand where Richt, Elliott, and Garrett are all coming from, Fournette and McCaffrey have every right to do what they feel is best for them. Just look at Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith’s injury from last season. He was projected to be a top 10 pick, then he blows out his knee in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State and hasn’t played since. There’s even a question if his knee will ever be the same.
Through three seasons at LSU, Leonard Fournette has already carried the ball 616 times and caught 41 passes. Playing in the SEC, the best conference in the country, that’s a lot of head-on collisions and beatings for his body to take. Playing in the Citrus Bowl would only increase those beatings and put him at risk for a serious injury in a meaningless game. Sitting out puts him in the best possible position to go into draft workouts healthy.
The same goes for McCaffrey. Christian has 632 carries, 99 catches, 34 punt returns, and 57 kick returns in his three-year career at Stanford. He’s proven everything he can prove to the NFL scouts and does nothing but put himself at risk of a serious injury by suiting up for the Sun Bowl.
Thankfully, these two guys don’t seem to be concerned by the backlash of their decisions at all. Fournette sent out this tweet yesterday as a message to all his haters.
Only person I owe something too….. pic.twitter.com/QaLDGDC9Nw
— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) December 20, 2016
McCaffrey, on the other hand, is only concerned about what his teammates think, and they all support his decision.
To the best teammate, roommate, and brother I could have asked for, thank you. I have never met… https://t.co/9pEJhMwCMm
— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) December 19, 2016
The whole team supports @CMccaffrey5 in everything and anything. Hes been a leader to this team through the easy times and tough times.
— Trenton Irwin (@trenton_4) December 19, 2016
In this social media day and age, people are able to express their opinions for the entire world to see. Unfortunately, just because something might be good for one person, it may not be good for another. Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are doing what they believe is best for their careers at the next level, and I find that admirable.
[Featured Image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]