Well the tribe has spoken and the result is clear: NFL teams do not care if prospects play in their final bowl game before going pro. Leonard Fournette of LSU and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, the pioneers of the trend, both went as top ten picks. This fact was generally understated throughout the weekend but it can have major implications for the future of college football as we know it.
College bowl games are a staple of the American way. We ring in the new year with what seems to be a limitless amount of football. The reason so many of these games are able to happen is because they bring in big money for everyone involved. All of this cash comes on the backs of athletes who are the centerpiece of the spectacle. But what happens when these athletes who have dropped their student tag would rather quit participating?
The incentive to play one final game as a college athlete is dissipating. Football is a game where injury is always an inherent risk. Why take the chance? Bowl game injuries can be the difference between scoring a $20 million deal and a $2 million deal. That is a hell of a chance to take for top tier prospects. On top of that, if your team isn’t making the playoff, the rest of the bowl games are essentially pointless.
It is going to be an interesting development moving forward. In both situations we saw this year, the players were battling injuries. They probably could have played but the risk was considered too high. We have never seen healthy players sit out strictly to protect their draftability. Is that on the horizon? It is the position of this writer that it has to be.
Before, players were concerned about their perception with NFL executives. The NFL has responded by drafting these guys based on their talent. Apparently they don’t take any intangible consideration on if a player decides to participate in a meaningless January game. In a league where assaulting women only pushes a player a couple rounds down the board, why would this matter?
If this does go down the path of star players just flat out refusing to play, what does that mean for TV ratings? A certain network who may have just experienced a major wave of layoffs owns a considerable amount of the contracts. Would they be even more adversely affected? Only time will tell but the demise of a once great giant could be down the line…