Just Another Game

Since the start of the playoffs, no one really cares what bowl you go to if it is not selected as one of the four College Football Playoff games. I mean, honestly, who cares that you won the Gator Bowl in 2016. Bowl games don’t mean anything -unless a win takes you to the natty. Yes, it gives the team an opportunity to play one more game together, you play at a cool venue against a team outside of your conference, and it gives the fans one last thing to cheer for before they go through a 9 month college football fast. But at the end of the day, bowl games don’t mean squat. Conference championships? Important. But as far as bowl games go, I don’t think that it’s anything more than just another game to play. Unless you’re Kentucky and decide that even a bowl loss deserves a ring, but that’s none of my business.

For the past few years, a few top draft prospects have been deciding to forgo playing their bowl games with their teams. Is this a wise decision? Selfish? Smart? There are some good arguments for and against the decisions made by these athletes and their agents. The Nick Bosa situation seems to be sitting on the tips of the tongues of sports analysts at the moment. Should he be sitting out for the rest of the season? Should he stay with his team and support them? Will NFL scouts take their attention elsewhere because he’s not on the field right now? Will General Managers of NFL teams question Bosa’s loyalty? (I promise you, if you can help them win, they want you on their team. They don’t really care if you played your bowl game or not.)

In all honesty, I think the Nick Bosa situation is no different than Leonard Fournette’s and Christian Mccaffrey’s situation back in 2016. When running back Leonard Fournette was at LSU, Coach Orgeron suggested that he sit out of the bowl game. He was a top 5 draft prospect and no one wanted to risk an injury that would hurt his draft stock. This brought up a lot of controversy, especially with LSU fans. The feelings of betrayal and bitterness surrounded Louisiana and their beloved Tigers. Les Miles had just been ‘fired’ and Ed Orgeron had been given the responsibility of getting the Tigers through the rest of the season. With the loss of Miles and Fournette, they looked to Derrius Guice to lead the team to a bowl victory and did he ever. LSU ran past Louisville with a final score of 29-9. Guice gave the NFL scouts a show coming in at 26 carries for 136 yards and 1 touchdown. In the end, LSU did not NEED Leonard Fournette to help them beat Louisville in the Citrus Bowl in 2016.  LSU won their bowl game and Fournette ended up being the 4th overall draft pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Christian Mccaffrey’s situation was basically the same. He decided to sit out his bowl game in order to avoid injury and Stanford had no problem finding a win against  North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. Obviously, this did not hurt his draft stock either.

I understand why ESPN college football analyst, David Pollack, would argue that Nick Bosa is making the wrong decision. Pollack, who won the Lombardi at Georgia, loved playing college football. Yes, he was good enough to play in the NFL; in fact, he was a first round draft pick in 2005. During his first year of playing for the Bengals, he became an All American. Sadly, during the second game of his second season, Pollack suffered a career ending neck injury. Most of his football memories were made in college. He loved playing football at Georgia. He suffered an injury during his junior year of college and came back to play his senior year because of the responsibility he felt towards his team. Wow, what a good guy. This was a personal decision and made because of his love for his school, his coach, and his team. He was living his dream.

Some athletes grew up dreaming about playing for their favorite college and some grew up with the dreams of playing in the NFL. What Fournette, Mccaffrey, and Bosa all have in common is the fact that they all have dreamed of playing in the NFL. Of course, they loved their college coach, team, and fans, but these guys want to play football for a living. There should be nothing that holds them back. If that means sitting out a bowl game, then by all means, they should be allowed to do that with no backlash from fans or teammates. If they feel a responsibility to their team to play in the bowl game? Then they should be able to play in the bowl game with their team for the last time. They should not feel pressure or guilt from the media and fans due to the fact that they are making the best decision for their families and career. If the team is relying solely on these players to help them win games then that should be a red flag and a sign that they need to be making some other adjustments. Bosa has been hurt twice in his career at Ohio State. His decision is the right decision. He wants to make a living playing football without risking a possible career ending injury during his last few games in college. It would be better for him to suffer an injury his first game in the NFL and be a multi million dollar injured football player than to be a injured, broke college football player who almost made it to the NFL.

So what do you think? Should the fans and media be able to have a say in whether or not they think a player should finish out the season with their team depending on them?

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