McCaffrey opting not to play for Stanford in Sun Bowl hurts spirit of game

Last chance to have real brotherhood bond with teammates

Somewhat lost in the sports news of the last couple of weeks was the decision of Stanford football star Christian McCaffrey opting not to play for Stanford in the upcoming Sun Bowl.

Officially, the reason given was McCaffrey wants to prepare for the NFL draft. But realistically, McCaffrey does not want to run the risk of getting hurt in the game, which in turn could affect his draft status.

He is not the only college player to do so this year as Leonard Fournett of LSU is taking the same route.

Honestly, I think this is garbage in both cases and is unfair to the bowl games, fans of the team and finally, the players themselves.

Stanford traditionally does not travel well (does not sell a ton of tickets), but with a player like McCaffrey in the game, there is more interest. Had he declared before the bowl selections were made, the Sun Bowl may have gone somewhere else with the selection. Now they are stuck with a far less appealing match-up.

I also guarantee if Stanford was going to the Rose Bowl or was a top four team and in the playoffs, McCaffrey would be playing. But because it is the Sun Bowl he needs to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Teammates have been Tweeting support for McCaffrey, which is also a reason I feel he should be playing. College is the last place for an athlete to have a real brotherhood bond with his teammates.

Professional athletics is a business and while there are friendships, at the end of the day it’s a business and it is a me-first attitude. College has become a lot of business first, but is still a team as you live with your teammates, hopefully go to class with your teammates and when you add in their respective sport, spend nearly all your time together.

That McCaffrey’s teammates have publicly supported him shows the bound that has been formed. What McCaffrey needs to understand that once you leave college and that brotherhood, you can’t go back.

Another aspect of this entire issue is that it trickles down to the high school athletes and I feel sets a poor example. High school sports have been moving in this direction for some time – the me-first attitude – and is getting worse each year.

The biggest example of this are kids that stop playing other sports so they can focus on their “best sport”. Most of the time, its disillusioned parents advising their child about what sport to “focus” on. But in recent times, some coaches have begun to pressure kids to play only one sport.

They may not officially say that, but trust me, it’s implied and if you don’t believe that, you have your head in the sand.

I grew up in Pleasanton where playing multiple sports was not just allowed, but encouraged. Coaches worked together to make it happen and supported kids playing multiple sports.

I can remember while I was the sports editor at the Tri-Valley Herald, the Kernan sisters played both soccer and basketball – in the same season – for Amador.

There were times where the girls would go straight from a soccer game to a basketball game. It’s the only time in my many years of writing where basketball players would have dirt and grass stains on their knees.

Few kids go on to play college sports and a very small, microscopic number make it to professional sports. High school and in theory, college, should be about building memories and not about me-first.

I personally know people my age that regret decisions made when in high school and it pains me to see similar decisions being made now. Twenty years from now, these kids will look back when they are attending class reunions and understand it. But it will then be far too late for them to change what happened.


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Posted by bj
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 22, 2016 at 12:43 pm

I agree that the game has lost its luster but this Bowl event was and is really not that important and why risk getting hurt. There isn't one player on the team who wouldn't do the same if given the opportunity. A football player has an extremely short career and it is always best to make hay while the sun shines. What my Granddad meant by that statement is, grab what you can when you can and do it now.

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Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 22, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Jack is a registered user.

I hate that my brain had to go here, but the first thing I thought of when I heard he was skipping the game, was that the longer gap between being a member of the NCAA and the NFL might prove helpful if you were one who partook in PED's...

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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 22, 2016 at 7:23 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Difficult decision.
What is an athlete to do?

I do not support a college athlete declaring for the NFL draft in their junior year or younger.

I admire Andrew Lucks decision to stay on at Stanford through his senior year and getting his degree in doing so.

All college football players should consider getting the degree as preference to opting out for the NFL, because of the inevitability of the short career in the NFL.

A mega star in college may garner the mega dollars signing into the NFL.

Probably none of them consider the worth in doing so.

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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

What is the purpose of college? College is to prepare you for work (and therefore income) for the rest of your life. McCaffrey has prepared as much as he can, he is about to embark on his post-college career, and make millions doing it. He doesn't need his degree, just like Mark Zuckerberg, who left college early without a degree and made a few bucks since then.

College coaches leave all the time before their teams' bowl games, yet players can't? Players need to look out for themselves, and they are just following the example set by their coaches. And coaches are paid, paid very well, yet college players don't get a dime. McCaffery owes the Sun Bowl nothing. They weren't going to pay him to be there, so now he can skip it and still not get paid.

McCaffrey also plays the most punishing, risky position on the field, running back. Both high profile players skipping their bowl games, McCaffrey and Fournette, are running backs. They absolutely are doing the right thing by skipping their games, they are protecting the investment of time and hard work they have put in to get to this point.

So, Dennis, nice article, but you are wrong. It is not "garbage" for McCaffrey to skip the game. His Stanford education has done him good, he is making the right move. He has been a dependable, amazing athlete for Stanford, and he owes nothing to Stanford, to the fans, to the NCAA, and especially to the bowl game.

McCaffrey, thanks for everything, good luck in the NFL, I will be rooting for you with no hard feelings.

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Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 23, 2016 at 9:36 am

Jack is a registered user.

McCaffrey is a member of the team. You show up, you suit up and you play! It's that simple!
Comparing a potential career as an NFL running back, which averages 2.5 years, to the path of Mark Zuckerberg, is not quite apples to apples...
What about meaningless NFL preseason games? What about the 4th quarter when a game is already decided? What about a game like the East/West Game, where the best draft-eligible players practice together and against each other for a week and then square off on the same field? Is he above that too?
And finally, he might not owe the Bowl Game anything or the fans anything, but he certainly owes his coaches and his teammates something!
Since when is it too much to ask a football player to play a football game?

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Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 23, 2016 at 9:53 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

I'm with Dennis on this one. McCaffrey accepted the deal to play football and was paid handsomely in scholarship money and coaching. He is now in breach of contract.

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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2016 at 7:41 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

"He is now in breach of contract."
I seriously doubt that a player signs anything that says they must play when the school or coach says they have to, that would be ludicrous. The one problem with quitting, for an NCAA athlete, is that they have to sit out a year before they can join another team (there are exceptions to this). But a coach can leave to join a team at anytime.

The school and the coaches do not have the best interests of the players in mind, they look out for the best interests of the school and themselves. Since no one is looking out for the athletes, they must look out for themselves. McCaffrey's teammates have been Tweeting their support for McCaffrey, because they too know that no one is looking out for them, and that a potential NFL career can disappear in an instant.

"What about a game like the East/West Game"
This game is a showcase for potential future NFL players, trying to up their stock, to get a higher draft place and therefore, to get more money.

"McCaffrey accepted the deal to play football and was paid handsomely in scholarship money and coaching" Paid handsomely? You don't get PAID for playing college football! I guarantee he doesn't have a penny to his name!! (Not counting the money his family helps him out with.)

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Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 24, 2016 at 9:08 am

Paid? Perhaps not... But he has been compensated generously. His three years at Stanford are worth at least a quarter of a million dollars... Not bad for a kid who is still too young to legally buy a drink...

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Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 24, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Stanford costs are just shy of $63,000 a year now. So over his three years at Stanford, McCaffrey has been given roughly $189,000 in free tuition, room, board, etc. Let's round that up to $250,000, and even quarter mil just for discussion's sake. Please tell me, has Stanford recouped that money in those three years? He has sold many jerseys and tickets for Stanford, as the main marketable name and presence currently in the Stanford lineup (I don't know about anyone else, but I can't name any other Stanford football player right now). As the main offensive weapon of the Cardinal, he has greatly helped them get to bowl games each of the last three years, and so far Stanford is 2-0 in those games. I'd say it's safe to say that McCaffrey easily has given more to the university than he has received. Just to recap, he has received NOTHING. (For any other player, you can say it is or was a net positive for what the scholarship has given them. But McCaffrey is a different story.)

Thanks for the last three years, Christian. We will miss you greatly, but we are thankful for keeping Stanford relevant while you have been here. You have made the right decision, I look forward to watching you play in the NFL, you deserve all you will earn.

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Posted by Dave Levine
a resident of Castlewood
on Dec 26, 2016 at 11:03 am

Excellent post, Dennis! I agree 100% and posted a similar piece about McCaffrey om my blog Dave Levine Online.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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