Why NFL must allow Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard into supplemental draft

JJ Stankevitz
NBC Sports Chicago

Earlier this month, Bears offensive lineman James Daniels tweeted about the unfair treatment of Black players in Iowa's football program. Ten days later, Iowa fired strength coach Chris Doyle, who was at the center of a number of players' complaints about racism in the program. 

Change within rotten, racist college programs needs to happen, and players - especially Black players - are more empowered than ever. It's the unpaid players who hold the power, not the coaches pulling in seven-figure salaries. 

Daniels' tweet is important today in light of this: 

That's Chuba Hubbard, who rushed for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns for Oklahoma State in 2019 and enters 2020 as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He's a really, really good football player. 

He's also threatening to not play because his coach wore a shirt of a far-right "news" outlet that promotes conspiracy theories and has a host that called Black Lives Matter as a "criminal organization." 

It's actually amazing how ignorant Mike Gundy can be when he interacts with Black players every day. Does he never listen to them? 

So does "change" involve firing coach Gundy, who's the 13th highest-paid coach in college football - money made largely thanks to unpaid Black athletes? 

Hopefully it does, because the problem at Oklahoma State seems to run much deeper than an ignorant t-shirt. But what if Oklahoma State declines to make the "change" its best football player is hoping for? 

Hubbard could enter the NFL's supplemental draft. It's held each year with little fanfare. Only 46 players have been drafted since it began in 1977. Teams that choose to take a player in the supplemental draft must "bid" a future year's draft pick, essentially, to pick them, with the team offering the highest pick allowed to take the player. 

Hubbard, undoubtedly, would have plenty of suitors in the supplemental draft. A lot of folks thought he would've been a Day 2 pick in 2020's draft had he declared; in a supplemental draft, he could be had for a 2020 second- or third-round pick. 

But entering the supplemental draft isn't a cut-and-dry process. Hubbard is technically eligible, as he's three years removed from his high school graduation. Players who wish to enter the supplemental draft, though, have to file a petition with the NFL and are not guaranteed to have it granted. 

Most players who are allowed into the supplemental draft were declared ineligible after the NFL's deadline to declare for the amateur draft. Issues can range from academic ineligibility to discipline to violating the NCAA's ridiculous guidelines. 

Never has a player been granted eligibility for the supplemental draft because he wanted "change" when it comes to an ignorant head coach. 

But if the NFL is serious about listening to Black voices and enacting change of their own, it needs to allow Hubbard a path to walk away from a toxic program. Sure, Hubbard could sit out 2020, but that could adversely affect his draft stock in 2021. 

That'd be a wildly unfair penalty for standing up for what's right (though the NFL, uh, does not have a good record when it comes to penalizing players unfairly for standing up for what's right). 

The NFL, here, could set an important precedent. Hubbard won't be the only big-name college football player to use his platform and power this way. 

And the threat of losing a player as talented as Hubbard -- not just to sitting out a season, but to the pros -- should, hopefully, spur athletic departments to look inward to root out the kind of racist rot that, clearly, has permeated far too many football facilities for far too long.

Not that they should need any motivation to do it, because it's the right thing to do. And the NFL can do the right thing here, too, by allowing Hubbard into the supplemental draft, if that's what he wants. 

Why NFL must allow Oklahoma State's Chuba Hubbard into supplemental draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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