Feed on

Choosing to sit out bowl game like letting down second family

Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, December 22, 2018


Sez Me …

I realize, to borrow from “Semi-Tough’s” Big Ed Bookman: “The bidness of football is bidness.”

I realize it’s a violent sport and many college players get injured before they have a chance to play for real money — not just room and board and, for the cherished few, the occasional sneaky handout.

I realize there now are far too many bowl games (39), nothing but participation trophies to a few, maybe more consequential to those with pride in what they do for themselves and their universities.

I realize that, as we move on through infancy as a nation, loyalty in many cases now is something that can be found in our diapers.

I realize so many schools are making millions off kids who do all the work for little more than glory.

But I consider myself a loyal guy.

I’ve been married once (which is considered a miracle to those who know me and my wife).

I’ve worked for one company (a newspaper miracle). Never sent out a résumé (of course I also haven’t been fired).

As screwed up as this city has become, I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else (probably because I’ve been anywhere else).

Family first. Then the job.

So, while I can see the monetary reasoning behind many top college players bailing out of bowl games before risking injury — and possibly (although unlikely) their NFL careers — it doesn’t mean I like it.

It’s a family thing. You sign up to play for your second family. The agent-drivens who leave are letting down their families.

Leaving school early is one thing. Leaving your teammates hanging before your season is done is another.

Bringing most of this on was Jaylon Smith. The Notre Dame linebacker projected to be a top-10 pick in the 2016 draft. He chose to play in the Fiesta Bowl vs Ohio State, and not only tore both ligaments in his knee, but the damage was such there was speculation he might never play again.

The Cowboys took a chance and drafted him in the second round. He’s now one of the best sideline-to-sideline middle linebackers.

When asked if he’d play in that bowl game again, Smith simply says: “Yes.”

But it started a trend.

This year’s list of voluntary bowl absentees, prospects of some sort, includes: Will Grier, QB, W. Virginia; Germaine Pratt, LB, N.C. State; Deebo Samuel, WR, S. Carolina; Noah Fant, TE, Iowa; Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan; Greedy Williams, CB, LSU; Ed Oliver, DL, Houston; N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State; Kelvin Harrison, WR, N.C. State; Donnell Greene, OT, Minnesota; Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State; and Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia.

Among these 12, our distinguished draft guru/mountain man Eddie Brown, has three — Fant, Gary (who is forming his own sports agency) and Oliver — among his top 25 prospects.

And, noticeably, not one from a College Football Playoff team.

Says Clemson coach Dabo Swinney: “Anybody can get hurt in any game. Why play your senior year at all?”

Correct. You sign up, serve. …


Comments are closed.