Jadeveon Clowney Won't Be the Last Player to Hang Up His Cleats Midseason

By DJ Byrnes on October 8, 2013 at 8:10a
Holllllly hell.

Jadeveon Clowney blindsided his coaches last weekend when he told them he wasn't fit for South Carolina's clash against Kentucky. Many speculated this was a move to preserve his draft stock; after all, the physical phenom has only been able to muster 12 tackles and two sacks during the 2013 campaign. (He criticized his coaches' use of him after a loss to Georgia and teams have went away from him all year.)

Perhaps Clowney has fresh memories of his former star teammate, running back Marcus Lattimore, whose knee was harpooned and has yet to play a down in the NFL. It was a hit that cost him hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.

Clowney, however, probably won't be the last star college athlete to realize they hold quite a bit of leverage. From the Charleston City Paper: 

Right now, many are debating whether Clowney has done the right thing — to effectively remove himself from play in an effort to stay healthy for a big-money career in the pros. Granted, it's a real dick move to his coach and his teammates and all of the Gamecock faithful, but it's a dog-eat-dog world and the defensive end must look out for himself first and foremost, something that his teammate Marcus Lattimore did not do — and he paid the price for it. (Although Lattimore still got paid a couple of million bucks when he was drafted, it was certainly less than what he would've gotten before his college career-ending injury. And just to be fair, Clemson's one-time QB Kyle Parker effectively "quit" his final year after Clemson's 2010 loss to the Cam Newton-led Auburn Tigers ended Clemson's title hopes; after all, Parker had a far-more lucrative career ahead of him as pro baseball player, although it must be said that despite hopes, Parker has yet to play in the majors.)

But none of this is neither here nor there. This isn't about right and wrong. This is about the future of college football, and right now, Clowney has changed the game in a way that few before him have. And he won't be the last. Other sure-fire draft picks will do the same. And the big-spenders in the NFL aren't going to care if a college team and its fanbase are upset. They want the best regardless of their sins.

Now where will all of this lead, I don't know. The NFL might sign an agreement with the NCAA refusing to draft apparent quitters like Clowney. Some colleges may actually decide not to court future superstars like Clowney, who they fear will hang up their cleats to protect their pro prospects; the bigger programs might do this, but few will be able to resist the temptation of getting their hands on a potential big-time player. And it's even possible that the end game here is finally a decision by the NCAA to admit that college football players are professional athletes and to begin paying them accordingly. 

Don't hold your breath on the NFL "signing an agreement" with the NCAA "refusing to draft quitters like Clowney." Not when said quitters are genetic mutations. (Clowney's draft stock, for the record, hasn't slipped a bit.) 


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skid21's picture

College football welcome to the world of college basketball. It is all about the money with sports these days. Not blaming the athletes as I'd be looking out for my own future as well but it really hurts the concept of team. The way coaches, the universities and the NCAA get rich off these players makes it hard not to see Clowney's point. OTOH throughout his entire lifetime he will have to live with the fact he quit on his team. Maybe it won't bother him but it would seriously bother me.

SilverState's picture

Framing his decision not to play as "quitting on his team" is distorted in my opinion. I think a more accurate frame is that he joined S. Carolina because it was in his best interest to further his (very good) chances at playing professional football. Deciding to not play is continuing to meet this objective.

jenks's picture

And in the process, he quit on his team. No way getting around that.

SilverState's picture

Assuming continuing playing would cause a significant drop in the draft, any teammate who wanted him to continue playing wouldn't have his best interests at heart.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Would you feel the same if it were Roby?  Because possible injury isn't eh only thing hurting his draft stock right now.  Clowney's stock may worsen because he, like Roby, is not playing up to the off-season hype surrounding him...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

SilverState's picture

I read that Clowney has been utilized differently this year and teams are obviously playing away from him, which obviously could hurt his performance. Is much of his lack of performance due merely because he isn't playing to his ability? I haven't watched read/enough about him.
I actually thought about the Roby scenario after I posted. I would not like it as a fan, to see him sit out. I want to have everyone out there who maximizes our chance of winning. But there's obviously a conflict of interest there. If it would be in his best interest over the long run to sit out, then he should do so. (Now, the manner in which one would go about this and the scholarship implications are entirely separate matters.)

BuckeyeChief's picture

IDK if his stock hasn't slipped in the eyes of fans...I was on a few Giants boards during Sunday's debacle, and quite a few posters were wary of him.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

cronimi's picture

Chief, while that may be true, I'm sure Clowney doesn't care about his "stock" in the eyes of fans. The only eyes that matter are those of the NFL GMs and owners who sign the checks.

Denny's picture

I hate to break it to you Chief, but message board posters aren't the ones who draft football players in the football player draft.


jenks's picture

Even though I don't pick, I'm thankful the Bengals are not in the market for his services.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Lol, I know...if we were, the Giants would do something other then draft 20 D linemen every year.

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

SaltyD0gg's picture

the defensive end must look out for himself first and foremost

It's a sad commentary when this is the accepted truth of the day. We teach our kids that they're not bigger than the team and that when you make a commitment you honor it.

Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

SilverState's picture

As Clowney's teammate, I wouldn't want him to sacrifice his long-term prospects for my interests.

Denny's picture

We teach our kids that they're not bigger than the team and that when you make a commitment you honor it.

I assume the kids you teach have zero long-term prospects at making insane amounts of money dollars in the future, barring catastrophic injury.


SaltyD0gg's picture

I teach my kids that we're not going to compromise our character and integrity no matter the amount of money.

Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

albinomosquito's picture

I wouldn't consider refusing to play garbage opponents "quitting on his team"..  if SC is looking at decent bowl prospects and Clowney would be the difference between winning or losing, then yes, i would expect him to play.. otherwise, take a seat..
Has it been confirmed that he won't be playing for the rest of the year?

jenks's picture

I was under the impression that they started the year with BCS bowls in mind, top 10 rankings, and are now squeaking by vastly inferior opponents. They are obviously much better when he plays much better, and it is most certainly affecting them.

alust2013's picture

I don't think I'd want to draft him with an attitude like that. Not that he's a bad kid, but if he pans out, you could be looking at a holdout for a contract or other drama like that. I still have yet to be convinced that he is as amazing as the hype says. 

...and Michigan still sucks.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Way, way, way too early to be putting draft boards together (leave that to McShay and Kiper; they're essentially worthless to ESPN otherwise). I can't imagine that most teams would show their hands this early regarding Clowney or others. Discounting character and personality traits, however, is naive: NFL GMs have increasingly balanced physical intangibles with decision-making and character to influence their choices and, by extension, draft placement for many kids (see Mallett, Ryan).
Remember, also, that Hankins and Matt Barkley were sure-fire top-ten picks in August of 2012. Things can change.

Hovenaut's picture

I think there were rumblings about him taking plays off last year. It's a helluva dilemma, but I can't see this helping his stock at all.

Certain he'll still he a high pick come April, whatever shakes out the rest of the way.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

If I were Spurrier, I would cut his ass and then have a press conference on how he is no team player and we don't deserve to have players like this on our program. Entitlement is nothing to [expicit] with these days and if you're afraid of getting hurt, then why did you sign up for football?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

Oyster's picture

My sentiments exactly.  Bye, Bye scholarship, pack your bags and get out.  Oh, and don't forget to pay this bill for the services we provided the last couple of years.  You reneged on your agreement when you accepted the scholarship, pay up. 

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

buckskin's picture

Yes, a contract needs to be honored by both sides.

EnlistedBuckeye's picture

Whats sad is that there are im sure, plenty of kids on the practice squad not getting their school paid for. This kid wants to take plays off, and sit out games? This isnt about the pros because he is still in college. He showed so much about his own mental toughness with his choice. I'd love to see what Woody would have said to this sad sack of....

Poison nuts's picture

Man, this is an interesting debate...I can see it from both sides. As a fan of college football though, a trend of players up & quitting mid-season would be a tough thing to see happen...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

buckskin's picture

Spurrier needs to yank his scholarship and give it to someone who it going to help the team win.  I understand the whole NFL, future earnings, injury side of it, but this all happens within the framework of a TEAM game at the collegiate level.  That is the system we have right now until something changes.  Sad. 

Jeeves's picture

I think Clowney will still be a high pick partially because no GM wants to be that guy who passed on Clowney if he lives up to the hype.

GoBucksToledo's picture

South Carolina only beat Kentucky by 7 last weekend.  They still have games against Arkansas (despite it being Bert it will still be a game for the Gamecocks), Florida and Clemson, not to mention Mississippi State, a currently undefeated Missouri as well as Tennessee on their schedule.  Wonder how Spurrier will feel if he loses half of these games because he doesn't have his best defensive player in the game.  While Spurrier has a lot of equity with that fan base right now, a lot of loses tends to erode that feel-good relationship.

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

I'm going to go on record as calling this guy an underachiever (not a bust) at the next level.
The money and the fame is only going to make it worse.
The fact that teams were willing to tank this entire season for this dude is hilarious.

Young_Turk's picture

Regarding the under-achiever...
Remember Alozno Spellman.  I thought I'd never see a genetic specimen like him.  30 sacks in 5 years in the league.  Good, not great. 
What about Vernon Gholston.  Total bust from an NFL perspective.  Amazing from a Buckeye perspective.....During the 2007 season Gholston recorded 37 tackles (15.5 for a loss) and set a school record with 14.5 sacks in 13 games, breaking the former record of 13 sacks in a single season set in 1995 by Mike Vrabel.
It could happen. 


d1145fresh's picture

Small sidenote-- when is it okay for a newspaper to say: "Granted, it's a real dick move to his coach and his teammates and all of the Gamecock faithful..."
I'm not a journalist nor am I the overly PC type but did that line catch anyone else off guard?

NoVA Buckeye's picture

dick and cock in the same sentence... only in South Carolina could this happen

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

d1145fresh's picture

Its a mouthful, that's for sure.

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Can't believe someone had the balls to say it.

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I don't fault Clowney for thinking like this (if he indeed is thinking he needs to sit to avoid injury).  However, he should make that call in spring practice, not in the middle of the season.  It's not as if it just dawned on him that he might have pro potential.  He should have just sat out the entire season, freed the scholly up for someone else and worked out with some football conditioning experts for a year while someone else pays for it (no NCAA rules anymore).  At least that way his teammates and coaches could have prepared for it.  I'd obviously rather the best players play, but I don't begrudge them for getting nervous.

Yeti's have feelings too.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

It would take some brass balls the size of church bells for Spurrier to have a little talk with Clowney and say "son, we wanna make real sure  you are healthy so just in case, you won't be playin' for the next 3 games (or more)". This whole thing is pathetic.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

If i'm a GM, I might not take him. He might do the same thing in a contract year.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

741's picture

Is the phrase "dick move" taught in journalism school? Just curious.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

Player #1 - Tackles - 12 (8 solo) TFL's - 3.0 Sacks - 2.0 QB Hurries - 4 
Player #2 - Tackles - 16 (12 solo) TFL's - 4.0 Sacks - 2.0 QB Hurries - 1
Joey Bosa or Jadeveon Clowney?
(Bosa= player #2, Clowney = player #1)

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

Phoenix824's picture

If he quits on South Carolina whats to say he does not quit on his pro team once he gets the contract

Dr. House's picture

you mean like albert haynesworth?

Maestro's picture

Sad turn of events for my/our favorite sport.

vacuuming sucks

teddyballgame's picture

Everyone is looking past the obvious here, which is:
He should have been gone after last year.  No reason to keep him in college if he belongs in the NFL.

BSTP DeCon's picture

Wasn't this one of the douche bags that bought the insurance stating he would receive 'X' millions of dollars if he didn't get drafted or didn't get drafted as high as everyone was thinking? I hope my future children don't ever think they can just quit on something literally half way through it. Quitting is not how winning is done. Almost sorry you're not having a GREAT year, Clowney. 

TravelingBuckeye's picture

Clowney on his way to the NFL Combine.

Fickell must have taken an arrow to the knee