Leonard Fournette sprained his ankle this weekend, and briefly melted the internet and college football message boards. Luckily, he just sprained his ankle, nothing serious – other than LSU fans who suffered mild heart attacks. Step away from the ledge.
Fournette is the Heisman front runner, the best running back in college football, a guaranteed Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft. He should never play another down of college football.
If Fournette opted to sit out the year, college football traditionalists would say he “lacks competitive fire”, he “puts himself above the team”, he’s a “low character guy”. What they fail to acknowledge is that college football is littered with cautionary tales of top draft prospects that have suffered serious injuries that negatively affected, or robbed them of their NFL career entirely.
Today in The Herd, Nick Wright explained why the idea of Fournette playing another year of football for free isn’t disrespecting the game, it’s just a smart business decision when being a professional athlete is your how you plan on paying your bills.
“Maybe he could get hurt and it’s the Todd Gurley situation, where you still go top 10. We don’t know how much money that injury is actually gonna cost Todd Gurley. we don’t know how many years off his career, having a blown ACL in college is gonna cost him.
We know what it cost Marcus Lattimore. His entire career. Guy would have been a top 15 pick. Blows his knee. Because the silly rules don’t allow him to turn pro until after his Junior year. And by “silly”, I mean exploitative rules. And he ends up being a fourth round pick who never plays in the NFL.”
Last year, Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith was the number one rated linebacker heading into the NFL Draft, and a likely Top 5 pick….until the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. Smith blew out his knee in what amounted to a meaningless exhibition game. Ohio State crushed Notre Dame, but the only real loser was Smith.
It was later revealed that Smith not only suffered structural knee damage, but also nerve damage which could prevent him from playing a down in the NFL. Smith was ultimately picked in the second round by the Cowboys, but lost millions of dollars by falling out of the top of the first.
Critics of the idea of Fournette sitting out the year to protect his body point out that he has an insurance policy. Maybe these critics haven’t ever dealt with insurance companies. If they think they won’t try to a.) get out of paying on the policy, or b.) limit the amount a player is paid, you’re the sucker. It’s kind of what they do. Why put it in the hands of the line-item review of insurance adjusters, when he can guarantee his health and draft status by skipping the year?
Nick thinks it’s always easy for critics to stand on the supposed moral high ground on this issue. It’s not their money and career. Fournette’s the one holding the winning Powerball numbers.
“People that are asking him to play this year at LSU, what they’re saying is, ‘Hey, you know that lottery ticket. That’s a winner. Instead of putting it in a safe deposit box until you can cash it, run it through the wash, it’ll probably be Okay.'”
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) August 17, 2016