(USA Today Sports Images)
The topic was first brought up by Charlotte Observer columnist Tom Sorensen, when he wondered if Clowney should sit out to avoid injury. Clowney is ineligible for this year's draft because he's not three years removed from high school. The only part of the column that didn't hold weight was when Sorensen said Clowney might not be the first pick of the 2013 NFL draft but would be a contender for it. Clowney would be the first pick of this draft, and most others. The Chiefs would already have the card to give to the commissioner written out. There shouldn't be a question about that.
The debate has gotten some traction this week, mostly because it raises good points on the NFL's draft eligibility rule, one of the worst and most unfair in all of sports.
There's no concern that Clowney will actually sit out, and Spurrier dismissed the idea when asked about it by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Well, I hope he plays this year, and I certainly believe he should play," Spurrier told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Now if money was his only goal in life, then he couldn’t play. And he might not get into a car before next year’s draft, so he wouldn’t be in a car wreck and get injured. He would be just very, very careful for a year not to have any kind of injury."
“But Jadeveon likes football. Football players play football. They don’t wait around on this, that or the other. He’s really good about avoiding injuries and so forth. He knows how to get out of harm’s way if there’s a big pileup around a tackle. I think the odds of him getting hurt are not nearly as much as a running back or somebody like that.
“I think he wants to play. I certainly hope and believe he does. I think he should play for South Carolina this season.”
It's nice that Clowney's college coach thinks Clowney should play college ball because he is in little danger of being hurt before he becomes the top pick of the NFL draft, but it doesn't take away from the biggest point: Clowney is ready to play in the NFL and it should be his choice to go to the league if he wants. If he had the option to leave for the NFL and passed to stay in college, great for him. At least he'd have that choice. If coming out after this season was that damaging to his career and he wasn't physically ready, NFL teams wouldn't draft him – and we all know that's not happening. Clowney is ready right now, that's very clear.
But the NFL can keep its free minor league going, and college football has one of its stars back for another year to help fill seats and get television ratings. Works out great for everyone. Except Clowney, whose professional future could be damaged by one offensive lineman stumbling into his knee next season.
The debate doesn't matter in this case. Clowney isn't going to the NFL and it's very unlikely he sits out. He seemed amused by the chatter, based on a tweet sent from an account that has been connected to him:
I'm playing lol
— jadeveon clowney 7(@clownejd) February 12, 2013
So, we hope Spurrier is right and Clowney stays healthy. It didn't work out well for Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore. We don't need another sad story to illustrate how unfair the NFL's three-year rule is.
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