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Fournette argument strikes a nerve in Baton Rouge

Leonard Fournette


College football players make billions in exchange for peanuts (literally, if that’s the snack of choice for a given day). So when that no-money-for-a-lot-more-than-nothing system is threatened, some of the people receiving the revenue that college football players are generating will understandably be upset.

In Baton Rouge, some of the folks whose salaries are paid by the exploits of running back Leonard Fournette and his teammates already are upset about the notion that Fournette, barred by an unfair and arbitratry NFL rule from entering the draft until 2017, should sit out the 2016 season.

This is insulting to Leonard the person,” LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette said on Twitter. “Can’t he get credit for also being high-character guy, loves his team & LSU?”

He deserves plenty of credit for that. He also deserves an opportunity to be fairly compensated for his skills, abilities, risks, and sacrifices. If the college football system isn’t going to give him fair compensation and if the NFL is ready to do so, he should be allowed to enter the draft.

Thanks to that arbitrary and NFL rule aimed at keeping college football coaches sufficiently happy to allow NFL scouts to attend practices, watch game film, and otherwise gather info about the vast majority of players who wouldn’t be ready or able to enter the NFL after fewer than three seasons, Fournette must wait until 2017. And so the question becomes whether he should make a business decision to not play in 2016.

But good luck making a business decision when employees of LSU will attack even mere question of whether a business decision should be made as an “insult” to the player.

It’s not an insult. It’s a compliment. The only insult is a system that exploits young men who collectively generate billions and in return receive a fraction of that value. Plus snacks.

Until that system changes, guys like Fournette need to be thinking less about love of the game and more about short-term and long-term business realities. Everyone else connected to college and pro football thinks that way. When the players do it, they’re ridiculed. When someone encourages the players to do it, it’s characterized as an insult.

Meanwhile, no one in the LSU cocoon is ever going to be truly honest, candid, and objective with Fournette about the situation because all of them are at some level protecting their own self interests.