Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, and What I Learned When They Skipped Their Bowl Games

By: Derrick Sanchez, @derricksanchez

Back when Charles Barkley was still the, "The Round Mound of Rebound", he once said, “I'm not a role model...Just because I dunk a basketball, doesn't mean I should raise your kids.”

The Chuckster was way ahead of his time, and he’s absolutely right. But what if we change the scope of who influences us and aim our microscopes toward college athletes?

Christian McCaffrey (Left) and Leonard Fournette (Right) decided to skip their respective bowl games. How do their decisions impact the rest of us? (Image via Sporting News).

Christian McCaffrey (Left) and Leonard Fournette (Right) decided to skip their respective bowl games. How do their decisions impact the rest of us? (Image via Sporting News).

Let’s examine high-profile players and recent newsmakers, Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Both players announced they would skip out on their bowl games. Fournette announced he would not play in the Citrus Bowl against Louisville. A few days later, McCaffrey announced he would not play against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.

Yes, both have dealt with injuries and rest most likely would not hurt their stock. McCaffrey, a projected 1st or 2nd round pick was a runner-up in the 2015 Heisman voting. Fournette on the other hand, was a consensus All-American and First-team All SEC selection in 2015.

Yes, their respective bowl games are not exactly the Rose Bowl or the National Championship game, but what if these were bowl games that actually mattered in the new college football playoff format? Would McCaffrey and Fournette’s stock drop if that was the case? Only time will tell in the upcoming draft.

Bowl season is always an exciting time for teams, players and coaches. For many athletes, this is their last time to shine on the collegiate stage because the harsh reality is they aren’t a surefire National Football League (NFL) draft pick. But what about the player who won't be drafted and has to scrap for an NFL roster spot via a tryout? What about the seniors playing in their last game because they have no real shot in the pro game?

I understand both players don’t want to get hurt and potentially hurt their stock. Several players in recent memory such as, then 2016 projected 1st-rounder, Jaylon Smith of Notre Dame, slipped down to the 2nd round when he tore his ACL and LCL in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

Obviously, a potential first round pick like McCaffrey will make guaranteed money, and with advice from his dad, former NFL wide receiver, Ed McCaffrey, the chances of hurting himself in a meaningless bowl game can determine his future as a pro.

As a college student myself, I was taken aback and wondered what can we learn from this, and how can we apply it to making it in the sports industry.

The fear of missing out is an obscure notion for millennials. Missing out on the Saturday night party or not being at the upcoming music festival causes concerns for the early-20s crowd.

With sport, in particular, college athletes participation in bowl games, there could be no real fear of missing out especially when you're anticipating to be drafted in the NFL draft and with real money in their future.

Many professional athletes chimed in on the matter with one of the most vocal being Ezekiel Elliott.




Zeke has some good points, but this can be taken with a grain of salt considering he’s done playing collegiate ball and moving on to a probable Rookie of the Year award with the Cowboys.

So what can we take away from McCaffrey and Fournette’s decision as future sport managers who can shape this industry?

Don’t think you’re entitled to anything: It doesn’t matter what your background is or where you went to school.

  • I’ve heard many, many times that you have to pay your dues from industry professionals with skin in the game.
  • Even if it means starting from the bottom with an unpaid internship, you can't rest on your laurels.
  • You must prove to your employer, boss and colleagues that you are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
  • Don’t think someone at your company is watching you do the little things? Think again.

Just because you made it doesn’t mean you don’t have to put in the work: Don’t be Ryan Leaf and blow away your talents after being praised and heralded as the next big thing.

  • You’ve landed the job of your dreams, so what now? Don’t be lazy, and put in the work.
  • If you get off track, remember the importance of the journey not the destination.
  • Fall back on your closest confidants and friends if you must and get the motivation to help you succeed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail.

Work your tail off: Perfect use-case is what some people may call the GOAT - Tom Brady; we all know the story: every team passed on the kid that was too slow or not the most athletic-looking, but he worked his tail off. When he got that chance to start, he never looked back.

  • If you’re given the right opportunity to lead a project or manage an event for example, run with it.
  • For many of us, success doesn’t happen overnight so trust the process.
  • Be a leader who will inspire others and carry that chip on your shoulder. That chip will help you remember why you work so hard and why you are where you are.

Take it from me - as a young, working professional turned grad student, I thought I had it all figured out once I wrapped up my undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, I was quickly humbled by the competitive nature of the working world and now understand that in order to be ahead of the game, you must not become complacent. So don't take your foot off of the pedal once you have accomplished something; take some time to plan your next move and ask yourself what will it take to be successful again and again. Go out there and show your worth.

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