Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, following a trend set last week by Lousiana State running back Leonard Fournette, announced Monday morning he would sit out the Sun Bowl to immediately focus on the 2017 NFL Draft.
Naturally, the #takes flowed online, ranging from "such begins the rightful overthrow of capitalism" all the way to "send these 'kids' back to the Korean War to learn some god damn respect."
But few have the perspective of former Ohio State and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who played in the Fiesta Bowl that robbed former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith of millions of dollars:
Say Jaylon Smith went 5th overall. He'd get a fully guaranteed 4-yr, $23.5M deal. Wound up with a 4-yr, $6.5M ($4.5M guar) deal instead.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 19, 2016
Elliott's stock was already as high as it could get. He didn't need to play and could have easily become the first notable running back to abscond from a bowl trip to focus on the draft.
But he played. And judging by these tweets, he doesn't regret it:
All these young guys deciding to skip their bowl games .I would do anything to play one more time with my brothers in that scarlet and gray— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) December 19, 2016
One last time to honor your university and one last chance to play with your boys who will be your brothers for life.— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) December 19, 2016
I just know how much I loved my university and the guys I played with. My last game was the most memorable moment from my college career.— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) December 19, 2016
Former teammate and current New York Giants cornerback Eli Apple, who also played in the game, agreed with Elliott's statement:
That's real https://t.co/FaPhxTUe24— Eli Apple (@EliApple13) December 19, 2016
And before the haters jump on Elliott for leaving early, there's a difference between leaving early and not finishing the season.
And there is a difference between not coming back for your last year and not finishing your last season.— Ezekiel Elliott (@EzekielElliott) December 19, 2016
Elliott carried the ball 27 times for 149 and four touchdowns in Ohio State's 44-28 rolling of Notre Dame in the original 2016 Fiesta Bowl.