Before the 2013 season, the talk of Jadeveon Clowney skipping the season to preserve his NFL draft status seemed very absurd.
Now? It's still absurd, but slightly less so, after Clowney revealed Saturday night that he's going to have offseason foot surgery for bone spurs.
It's a problem that Clowney has been dealing with in his right foot since high school, but it's bothering him enough that he's wearing a walking boot off the field.
“It’s painful,” Clowney said after USC’s 35-25 win against Vanderbilt on Saturday. “I’m out here playing on it, though, so I just try to give everything I got on it. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
Coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday that if the team felt Clowney needed offseason surgery for the issue before this season, he would have had it. However, as it's something that's always gone down in intensity with rest, South Carolina's impending bye week should be helpful.
While it's a problem that's likely going to plague Clowney for the rest of the season, let's not sound the alarms here. Or if you must, let's sound the alarms against all-encompassing hype, rather than Clowney's performance on the field.
These bone spurs are a much bigger deal because of the attention paid to Clowney and his athletic feats before the season. If you didn't know any better, you'd think the guy was (almost literally) Superman. And while Clowney's production and measurables are better than almost all mortals can achieve, the pedestal he was put on before the year makes an injury-hampered season seem like a letdown instead of an inevitable part of football.
And that's not fair to Clowney. The injury will likely deprive us from seeing him at the NFL Combine, but that's not a big issue. He'll still be a top five pick and the focus of opponents' gameplans the rest of the season. You just may have to temper your expectations.