Ja’Marr Chase is a smart man.
The LSU star receiver, reportedly, will opt out of the upcoming fraudulent college football season. A formal announcement is expected today.
For sure, it was a surprise and a blow to those who are trying to go forward with a college football season despite the coronavirus pandemic still gripping this country.
The battle cry for those willing to put the kids in harm’s way — especially when you consider that nobody really knows what the ramifications will be playing for in this environment long term — was that this was for the players, not all the TV money that will be lost if games aren’t played.
But we know it’s just not the case.
And the argument that the kids have to play this season in order to get to the pro level isn’t true, either.
Let’s be honest. NFL scouts know Chase’s resume and have seen his tape. The dude is bad and not playing in a pandemic won’t push away one team from adding him to its squad. And do you honestly believe players from the Big Ten and Pac-12 won’t be drafted because they didn’t play in 2020? Stop it.
Star college football players should look at Chase and follow his lead.
College football needs its stars, not the other way around.
Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell, considered by many as one of the top all-purpose offensive players in college football, opted out on Sunday, too.
Gainwell and his family have firsthand knowledge about COVID-19, losing four family members to the deadly disease — including an uncle whose funeral was over the weekend.
“He decided that he didn’t want to take any chances with the coronavirus going on,” Curtis Gainwell, Kenneth’s father, told The Commercial Appeal. “You don’t want to get out there and get sick and bring it to us, his brother or his teammates.”
Sound logic. Smart move.
Yet, there are some parents trying to sue the Big Ten for their kid’s right to play this coming season, as if it’s some birthright. It’s a strange case since the NCAA shutdown all fall sports championships, including Division II and III college football.
Major Division college football is the only sport hell bent on playing no matter what the scientists and medical people think.
Maybe, those parents should check out the results coming in from Auburn.
The Tigers cancelled multiple practices last week. And when practice resumes on Tuesday, they will be without 16 players due to COVID-19 concerns.
Coach Gus Malzahn told reporters on Sunday that nine players have tested positive for the virus and another seven are considered high risk.
“We’re learning as we go here,” he said. “Every day and every week is a challenge.”
What a mess.
That’s why it’s silly for some of the top players, guys who will be drafted, to play in this uncertain scenario. There’s no winning, nothing extra to gain.
And for all the other players, the vast majority of players who won’t be going to the next level, they are just fodder for the stars to pile up more stats.
The facts remain that less than two percent of NCAA seniors are drafted by an NFL team. That’s roughly one in 50.
To entice those less talented players to get out there and give it a go, you hear coaches throw out how they can improve their value for the NFL scouts by playing.
Sure, we get it.
But it can also be disastrous, given what players will have to do in the worst social distancing sport. It’s impossible not to put yourself at risk with all the tackling that takes place. Players will basically be on top of each other.
No one truly knows what the damage will be once the dust settles. Worse, who will be there for the student-athletes after their eligibility is done if they need health and financial help for playing in a pandemic?
We get that most of the athletes want to play. Players play. But the adults were always supposed to be there to stop the kids from themselves. Like when a kid wants to go back in the game with a concussion.
Here, you don’t need a blow to the head to know that this risk isn’t worth the reward.
Chase and Gainwell have figured that out.
Hopefully, many more will do the same before it’s too late.