Jadeveon Clowney will start today for the South Carolina Gamecocks versus Bret Bielema and the Arkansas Razorbacks. What happened with Clowney this week was a non-story; with both the media and Cocks Coach Steve Spurrier equally guilty for hyping up a non-issue. A lot of times, I don’t write about an issue simply because I’m preoccupied with other topics.
Then the story I ignored turns out to be a non-story, and I back-door into looking good for not buying into media noise. When in actuality I was just busy doing other stuff. The Oklahoma State football “scandal,” was the latest instance of this.
By today we know the Jadeveon Clowney has “no there there” as Gertrude Stein would say.
Yet it does bring up one very important potential future issue that we should look at.
“We made something out of nothing, it’s a non-story,” we heard on ESPN College Gameday this morning. Exactly, Jadeveon Clowney has bone spurs and rib muscle injuries, it’s difficult to play under those conditions. At least ESPN owned up to it today.
“I think it got blown out of proportion” – Spurrier. Well, yes but the visored one is the person who got this whole party started by throwing Jadeveon Clowney under the bus in the first place.
So both Spurrier and the media are at fault in this. But as College Gameday did a mea culpa, one of the show’s talking heads, Kirk Herbstreit brought up a salient point that we should takeaway from this.
Whenever a college football player has a star freshman or sophomore season, and he’s clearly ready to leap to the NFL, should be just bail on his team and prepare for the NFL Draft? Instead of risking injury that will derail his draft stock and cost him life-changing amounts of money should he just go leave the game? And work out with a trainer and focus on conditioning for the combine instead?
Of course he should!
What should Jadeveon Clowney, or any other athletic mercenary loosely affiliated with an institution of higher learning prioritize– financial security or “school pride?” That’s a no-brainer.
At least in the NBA, prospects can jump after one season of being a faux-college student. In the NFL they have to do three. Its absolutely ridiculous for each situation, but obviously way worse for football “athletic mercenaries loosely affiliated with institutions of higher learning” (that’s what I use instead of the phrase “student-athletes,” a phrase I refuse to publish) than it is for basketball.
Jadeveon Clowney should not be criticized, or see his draft stock tumble, because he wants to take care of himself and his family. He wants/needs to get paid for what he does so no one should condemn him for taking himself out of harm’s way for doing that.
Of course, it doesn’t mean he’s a perfect NFL Draft prospect with no red flags. People who cover the NFL Draft way more than I do have said there were character concerns about Jadeveon Clowney long before this week of faux-controversy. And maybe there are. Maybe Jadeveon Clowney isn’t as gung-ho about football as you want him to be. Maybe it’s just a vocation for him and he needs to avoid vocational hazard.
After all, in the 1950s a lawyer, and NCAA strongman, named Walter Byers came up with an explicit way to prevent people like Jadeveon Clowney from claiming workman’s compensation benefits. Byers did this by inventing the phrase “student-athletes.” That’s all that phrase is– a legal term created to save Universities from millions of dollars in potential lawsuits. No more no less.
So yeah, lay off Jadeveon Clowney. Let him go be a good ol’ American capitalist like anyone else.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan and 1620 The Zone, he also writes for Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and Facebook, subscribe to his RSS feed herePowered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks