Why Leonard Fournette Should Stop Playing College Football Right Now

Leonard Fournette should stop playing college football. Immediately. Posthaste. Now. And when I say now, I mean right now.

The LSU running back is killing the game, destroying the competition. He looks like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Super Bowl on NES. He’s that good. In Week 3, he ran for a career-high 228 yards against the Auburn Tigers.

He matched that dominating performance in Week 4 with 244 yards on 28 attempts against the Syracuse Orange.

He is the first running back in LSU history to have back-to-back 200-yard games. Yet, he needs to walk away from college football. There are two reasons why.

He Isn’t Being Paid

You can miss me with all that talk about team loyalty. NCAA players are usually given one-year renewable scholarships that are dependent upon the health of the player and his performance on the field. It’s a business arrangement. As a rule, Division I coaches do not love their players — they love what their players can do for them. Universities are complicit in this exploitation. They make millions of dollars off the backs of unpaid personnel. Therefore, it is incumbent upon players to do what makes the most economic sense as individuals with skills deemed valuable on the open market. As I’ve heard said many times before, one should never love an institution more than that institution loves you. This is true for Fournette.

If he blows out a knee, Les Miles would regretfully yet decisively cast Fournette to the side. If his productivity stalls, he could run the risk of losing his scholarship. Therefore, since we know that he has the kind of skills necessary to make an NFL roster, he needs to walk away now to protect his marketability. The fans would be livid, but these fans aren’t loyal to him. Why be loyal to them?

Longevity

According to the National Football League, the average length of a football player’s career is six years. According to an unofficial 2014 NFL census, the average length of a running back’s career is 3.11 years — the shortest of any position in the league.

The reasons for this disparity are many. The position of the running back is not as valued as it once was now that offensive coordinators focus more on the pass than having a “balanced” offensive attack. But the main culprit is the years of wear and tear a body must take to make it in the NFL. A player is likely to have almost 10 years of experience playing football before he ever steps foot in an NFL training camp. These years of bodily abuse compound over time, leading to shortened career expectancy — especially for a running back that is violently targeted on almost every play.

If Fournette could forgo some of that wear and tear by sitting out the rest of this year, he would set himself up for a longer professional career. The asinine rule that players are not eligible for draft consideration in the NFL until three years after graduation from high school would be exposed as untenable, and we would all see clearly the exploitative nature of this policy. Fox Sports commentator Clay Travis agrees:

What if Fournette signed autographs for thousands of dollars this off season, allowed that signing and payment to be “secretly” videotaped and then had that video purposely leaked? He’d be ineligible to play for LSU under NCAA rules, but would avoid all the stigma and criticism that he’d face for being the first college player to sit out a season before the NFL Draft. Instead of blaming Fournette for making a smart business decision, everyone would rip the NCAA for its stupid rules.

The point of all this is that we need to give college players agency to make the best economic decisions for their futures. The current arrangement marginalizes players, thereby entrapping them in a system that profits off their labor without properly compensating them for their effort. If they are injured in the course of working in this unjust system, they stand to lose millions of dollars while they are cast aside and the NCAA machine rolls on. It is an unfair and immoral arrangement, and Fournette should be allowed to deviate from the policy for the sake of his future fiduciary well-being without the risk of criminalization within an organization that is criminally authoritarian. He needs to do what is best for him and his family.

Fournette needs to go. He needs to leave college football, await his NFL eligibility and make millions as a professional player while at the height of his football prowess. If we celebrate Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates for leaving college to capitalize on their genius, we should afford Fournette the courtesy. The only difference is that LSU and the powers that be are profiting off Fournette, and they rigged the system to keep him from leaving before he made them too much money.

Three 6 Mafia once said it’s hard out here for a pimp. That may be true, but it’s harder if you’re the one getting pimped by the NCAA.

8 Replies to “Why Leonard Fournette Should Stop Playing College Football Right Now”

  1. If his goal is to maximize his earning potential then yes, he should sit out. If his goal is to win a National Championship for his home state then he should continue to play.

    One thing of note: The CHL, Canada’s junior hockey league, offers exceptional status to players who are younger than the league’s typical threshold (I believe it’s 16, so some 15-year-olds get this status). Perhaps the NFL could compromise and come up with a similar system where standout redshirt freshmen and sophomores apply for exemption.

    1. Except that the NFL isn’t going to draft a player who hasn’t played in over a year very highly, so you lose out on that big rookie contract. Serious injuries happen, but they are still pretty rare and Todd Gurley shows that teams are willing to take a risk on a college stud coming off an injury. The same can not be said about players coming off a year out of football, just look to ex-Tiger Tyrann Mathieu, who fell to the 3rd round yet would have easily been a 1st round pick if he had gone pro the previous year.

      Sitting out basically guarantees that you will lose money, if he plays then he has a much better chance of hitting a big payday. Even if he does suffer an injury, he still isn’t completely screwed. Marcus Lattimore was basically the worst case scenario, yet still got drafted in the 4th round and made about $2.8million despite never playing a down in the NFL after his injury and the chances of an injury of that magnitude are low.

  2. Fournette chose LSU because he’s a Louisiana kid. I think his loyalty to the state will keep him playing.
    And forget this “exploitation” business. Playing a sport you are supposed to enjoy, along with celebrity, status, hot women and a free education is not slavery. What a crock.

    1. That education might not be considered free when you factor in CTE. Or that the school isn’t all that interested in getting the student that education. Or in understanding what motivates a certain individual. Which is exactly why it’s intriguing for someone like Fournette to consider stepping away. Just ask Marcus Lattimore.

  3. Yes, by all means, each and every NFL bound, college football player should stop playing right now, sit things out, until they can be drafted, or do something stupid to make them ineligible according to the NCAA rules, so that they can sit out, and protect their bodies from these needless beatings. They’re being used and abused. I mean, college tuition is just about nothing these days, so, they are clearly being taken advantage of, being treated like slaves really. What color is the sky in your world, if you believe these things?!

    Wait, hold up, most of these institutions of higher learning often times cost $30,000+, just for tuition alone. Add in cost of living expenses, and you’re quickly up to $45-50,000 easy, for each player. Of these, only 1.6% of college football players get drafted into the NFL, and only about half of them, even make a team. So, that’s a paltry .08% of college football players, that end up in the NFL. Face it, their talent on the college level, can get them a FREE education, that most people who aren’t as athletically gifted, often times take out loans, that are equivalent to buying a house, with large payments to make, often times, for well over a decade to repay, if not longer, whereas athletes, if they take advantage of the opportunities presented before them, can enter the work force, DEBT FREE!!! Take the amount that their scholarships are really worth, divide that by how many hours that they commit to football in college, and you’ll find that many are making more than they will, on an hourly basis, than they probably will at their first job, once their playing days are over. You know the jobs that their FREE education provided for them even.

    For players that don’t have money for some reasonable entertainment aside from football and travel expenses when needed, etc., I could see paying players a nominal stipend, or on a needs basis, and/or allowing them to enter the draft after turning 20 years old, but let’s be real, most players are not ready for the NFL at 17/18 years of age, physically, mentally, or overall maturity wise related. For those talented players who may seem obvious to make it at the next level, schools often take out hefty insurance policies for them, in case they do get injured. Taking out million $$$ policies is NOT cheap, and newsflash, the players don’t pay the premiums.

    Ah, then there are those in college whom do not play sports. Think of what their tuition would be, if football didn’t add to help keeping costs down? Also, regular students pay large activity fees, which go to the athletic programs, whether they attend games or not. Sure, universities make $$$ off of football, for successful programs, but let’s be real, they put HUGE amounts of $$$ into their programs, and yes, expect to turn a decent profit. If players went from high school, or a year after playing in the NCAA, into the NFL, teams would incur a lot more costs for scouting, courting players, etc., due to the increased turnover of those whom think that they can make it at the next level. You’d see more horror stories of players, leaving too soon, getting physically broken, having squandered the very thing that will allow 99.02% of them to succeed, if they only seize the opportunity, and actually get an education, that is being laid in their lap, for FREE! I also agree that if/when players are injured in college, their respective program should have to pay all medical costs for that player, which they often do. Again, medical costs are not cheap these days either. So again, let’s be real, in life you rarely get something for nothing. Those student athletes able to provide entertainment in sporting activities, get treated like celebrities, and financial benefits that most students can only dream about. Many programs, aside from football, do NOT make $$$, so acting like athletes are being taken advantage of, is ludicrous, and insulting to the rest of us living in the real world, who aren’t able to get as much exposure, showcasing what we either think, or know that we do best. Again, if there’s a crisis today, it’s student athletes largely failing to realize that they’ll statistically “go pro” in something, non sports related, but fail to seize the day, being oblivious to the gift horse, that most are looking squarely in the mouth. :/

    1. People like to spout nonsense about football players already being paid as a defense of the NCAAs exploitation of it’s players in the money sports … and that’s the only thing that you can call it when a group is literally making billions of dollars a year and returning none of that to the actual kids on the field. Salaries for coaches and athletic directors have skyrocketed, and there are so many bowl games that even have the teams that get invites don’t even care about them yet a kid can get suspended for having someone give his mom airline tickets to fly in for a big game. It is disgusting.

      The thing is, you don’t need to have the school’s pay their players to fix the problem. Just let the shady underbelly of the NCAA come out into the light. If the Olympics can lift the restrictions on being an “amateur athlete” then so can the NCAA. Let the boosters shower the players with gifts (they already do!), let the players sign with an agent and get a bonus against future income, let the players sell their game jerseys or help coach at a summer camp for HS kids. Hell, let the player sign with an NFL team and collect a salary while still toting the rock in the “minor league”!

  4. I personally think that is a very bad idea. Education is not cheap. A championship is priceless. A Heisman secures a lifetime of celebrity. Let college kids be college kids, they will grow up and find the NFL is even more corrupt than the NCAA.

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