Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer probably won’t be getting very many friendly emails from South Carolina fans today. His column about All-Everything Gamecock Jadeveon Clowney is filled with good points:
1. Clowney is ready for the NFL now.
2. Due to the league’s rules, Clowney may be ready, but he’s not eligible to play in the league for another year.
3. Everyone saw what happened to Clowney teammate Marcus Lattimore last season.
So in Sorensen’s words:
“If you’re Clowney, what do you do? Give the school everything you have and try to upend the Crimson Tide?
Play not to get hurt?
Or sign with an agent, get assigned coaches and trainers and spend the season pumping up and preparing for the pros?
If Clowney doesn’t return to Columbia, South Carolina would be cheated.
At the moment, only Clowney is.”
Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL’s age limit in court and lost. So whether you view it as being fair or not, the league’s rule is a fact of life at this point. Clowney will have to live with it.
While he can take out a large insurance policy that would pay him if he suffered a serious injury in 2013, there’s no way such a policy could match all of the cash Clowney could potentially earn during an NFL career.
On that basis, yes, it would probably be wise for the lightning-quick defensive end to steer clear of the football field this fall. For that matter, if his coaches have his best interest at heart, shouldn’t they advise him to protect his body and his future spot as an overall #1 pick in the draft?
But those kinds of things rarely happen. The system is X and everyone typically just abides by X. Clowney likely will, too, going so far as to recently suggest he’d be at Carolina for both his junior and senior seasons. (Even Steve Spurrier quickly pooh-poohed that notion.)
That doesn’t mean Sorensen crossed any lines by posing this question. After all, you can bet someone in Clowney’s family has wrestled with the very same notion.