Today, it was announced that Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey will not be playing in the team’s
meaningless, total joke of a bowl game on December 30th. He has decided that he would rather prepare for the NFL Draft instead of risking injury in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
McCaffrey is the second notable running back to pull himself from his team’s bowl game; the first was LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Both backs are forgoing the rest of their college eligibility, and both backs had Heisman expectations before injuries derailed them.
On First Take this morning, Donovan McNabb said that McCaffrey’s decision “sets a bad example for the kids.” Now, I understand both sides of the flow. On one hand, both are in line to make a lot of money in the draft. You don’t want to risk an injury like former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith did last season (though, he was playing in a much more prestigious bowl game).
However, I, for one, expect more. For one, both players are captains on their respective teams. I don’t care if it’s Hyundai Sun Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, or otherwise. They may have declared, but they still play for the Stanford Cardinals and the LSU Tigers. And they’re leaders. What kind of message does that send to your fellow players? That you have to be all in on the team – until you deal with injuries, have disappointing seasons, and don’t reach your individual or group goals?
Personally, I’m a bit more critical of McCaffrey’s decision. I respect both football players and their talents, but to me, Fournette is unquestionably a great prospect. That’s not to say that he’ll pan out for sure, but he’s definitely worthy of a first round pick. I’m not totally convinced McCaffrey is worthy.
He’s got great speed. He can carry the ball effectively
at the collegiate level and he can catch passes out of the backfield. He’s a weapon on kickoff and punt returns. Though he’s listed at 6’0″ and 200 pounds, his size scares me. Right now, if I was calling shots in the NFL, I would not draft Christian McCaffrey in the first round, even in a weak draft. I think he can elevate his draft status with a strong showing against a UNC team that has been streaky.
Ultimately, I can’t totally knock players’ decisions. You know what I would do if it was my decision, but do you agree? Let me hear you in the comments, on Twitter or on Facebook.
Cover photo from YouTube.