Two of college football's best running backs, Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and LSU's Leonard Fournette, decided not to play in their teams' respective bowl games this year in order to focus on the NFL Draft. And judging by the widespread negative reaction, you could have sworn that they duped the mentally challenged for the biggest money grab of all time.
One media moron, who shall remain nameless, wrote, "...screw these guys...Are guys like Fournette and McCaffrey ushering in the era of the non-participation trophy generation? In this non-participation trophy generation, will the warped youth of America not actually participate in any games? The best athletes will just sit out Pop Warner, High School and College Football games and then get drafted into the NFL where they will collect paychecks, but not actually play. It’s a slippery slope and I’m pretty sure this is the only conclusion to draw from this dire situation."
The only conclusion to draw from this dire situation? Ushering in the era of the non-participation trophy generation?
C'mon son! In the words of Tony Montana, "Are you kidding me or what?"
It's astounding that when a college football player makes a decision that's in his best personal interests, he gets raked across the coals. It's also telling that most people think these guys are simply here for their amusement, as opposed to individuals of intelligence that must make decisions based on what's best for their future. I think it's great that these guys are getting their Rick James on, telling the NCAA to "F[orget] your bowl game!"
And judging from their resumes over the last few years, where they've both been gifts sent from the college football heavens, McCaffrey and Fournette have earned the right to walk their own path.
The key word in that prior sentence is "Walk", by the way.
Because they've both been hampered with leg injuries. Fournette's severe ankle sprains and McCaffrey's various maladies this year may have removed them early on from the Heisman Trophy race, but no one seems concerned about the sacrifices they made for the betterment of their teams while playing hurt.
And it makes absolutely no sense for them to put their futures at risk for the sake of a meaningless bowl game victory. You can bet your bottom dollar that had LSU and Stanford made it to the playoffs, both running backs, who also happen to be exceptional young men by all accounts, would have laid it all on the line for their coaches, teammates and their beloved programs.
But to do so now, with nothing left to prove, leaves absolutely nothing for them to gain and everything to lose. No position player loses as much value as an NFL running back prospect with bad wheels.
They say that the eye in the sky doesn't lie, and nothing they can do in the Citrus and Sun Bowls will catapult them even higher in this year's draft. There's nothing more that either of them can put on film to prove their worthiness at the next level. And having both struggled through physical ailments this year, it makes no sense to put their futures at risk.
Their teammates have been 100% supportive of their decisions, and those are the only opinions that matter to them.
McCaffrey has accumulated an astounding 6,191 all-purpose yards since 2015, the most by any player over a two-year stretch in FBS history. Let that sink in for a moment.
Last year, as a sophomore, he fully deserved the Heisman Trophy while delivering the best singular season in the history of college football. The consensus All-American, Associated Press College Football Player of the Year, Pac-12 Player of the Year and Paul Hornung Award winner last year blew the doors off of Barry Sanders' NCAA record of 3,250 all-purpose yards, finishing with 3,864, with 2,019 of those coming on the ground.
And despite being injured this year, he elevated his stock by averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 575 yards after contact in 2016, surpassing his total from last year with 84 fewer carries.
Fournette earned consensus All-America honors last year as a sophomore as well after after setting LSU single-season records with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. He also led the nation with 163 rushing yards per game.
Do you remember his freshman year, when he gave Florida and Ole Miss that work? Or how about his bowl game performance against Notre Dame that year when he carried the ball 11 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, and also scored on a 100-yard kickoff return?
Who can ever forget the 244 yards he put up on Syracuse, or the 212 yards and five touchdowns he gave Texas Tech last year?
All of these idiots screaming about participation trophies and how these decisions will create a disturbing trend are Unpresidented in their stupidity and simple-minded thought process.
As B. David Ridpath said in his excellent Forbes article, "The days of fighting for good old state U. and taking one for the team went out the window with inflated coaches salaries, unenforced contracts, one year scholarships, academic scandals, fighting the athletes on basic rights commonly allowed for other students and the continued silly fight to preserve something like amateurism that does not exist-just to name a few things. Players are getting smarter and need to protect themselves. Why wouldn’t any player leverage what they have for the best deal and to secure their future? Coaches do it all of the time and they are the ones that espouse loyalty and team all of the time but crap on it when they find a better deal. Turnabout is fair play!"
And this whole notion of this so-called "player participation trophy era" of players ruining the game is hilariously flawed, when you consider the proliferation of endless, meaningless bowl games where the NCAA is making an effort to give out as many participation trophies as possible.
Stop the holier than thou nonsense.
Football at this level is a business, and anyone griping about two talented young players not thinking along the lines of maximizing their earning potential at the next level rather than risking the loss of millions due to injury in a watered down bowl game that has nothing to do with the national championship is a special kind of stupid.