‘This Era of Player Just Doesn’t Love Football’: ESPN Pundit Blasts NFL Draftees For Opting Out of Bowl Games

Published 01/03/2022, 5:03 AM EST
Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Mississippi Rebels quarterback Matt Corral (red shirt) uses crutches as he leaves the field for halftime in the 2022 Sugar Bowl game against the Baylor Bears at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports| Courtesy-Reuters


ESPN analyst and College Football expert Kirk Herbstreit expressed his displeasure over NFL Draft prospects opting out and preserving themselves. A former Ohio State player and broadcasting vet, he sounded off on the callousness and entitlement of those college players. He was also backed by his co-analyst Desmond Howard, who wasn’t most pleased on displays of such reluctance to play.

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Herbstreit was quoted saying, “I just don’t understand—if you don’t make it to the playoff, how is it meaningless to play football and compete? Isn’t that what we do, as football players, we compete?” While stating his opinion, Kirk didn’t hold back, concluding, “I don’t know if expanding (the playoff) is going to change anything. I think this era of player just doesn’t love football.”

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Howard, who agreed with Kirk, also pitches in with his opinion stating, “When we were both coming up, Herbstreit and myself, to go to a Bowl game was a huge reward for a fantastic season. Now kids don’t really care about that. They have a sense of entitlement.

While Herbstreit did clarify that all his comments weren’t supposed to be for all players in general. All these big Bowl games really mean something to every college football player. The only thing that makes them opt-out was the risk of getting injured rather than other motivations.

Are ESPN Analyst Criticisms of NFL Draft prospects harsh?

The opinion made live on the air of both analysts received plenty of backlash on social media. Their views do display a degree of naivety towards thousands of players in the college system of being spoiled.

Famous news outlet Sports Illustrated reported Ole Miss QB Matt Corral’s injury as one of the feared reasons among prospects and a potential trend. The hesitancy to not get in between their own chances makes every prospect pick and choose their appearances in the modern era.

Several other college football playoffs following Twitter users did pitch in with their thoughts. One user against Kirk’s opinion tweeted, “So caring about a chance at generational wealth instead of running the risk of getting hurt in a meaningless bowl game makes them soft? Ya, that’s about as dumb as an opinion an anyone will ever read.”

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While another user tweeted, “No need to clarify—you are exactly right to call out the bullsh*t. Football is a TEAM game. Commit to your TEAM. Don’t let your TEAM down. It’s absurd.” 

Major NFL franchises have seen their players skip such Bowl games in the past. Like both Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffery and Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette did before the 2019 NFL Draft. This situation splits the fan base into two blocks. One who wants them to play for the prestige of these Bowls, while the other wants them ready for their big payday. 

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Though the agreeing minority were few and far between the disagreeing majority, the debate really is one that gives plenty of fans food for thought.  

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Anuj Tazhatuveetil

99 articles

An NFL author at EssentiallySports, Anuj Tazhatuveetil is pursuing a Master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Initially, he worked as a freelance content writer and later as a part of Sports404. An unquenchable thirst to learn about all things NFL and NBA, adding to a rather healthy obsession with playing outdoor sports like basketball, and soccer with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of this industry make him a sports aficionado.

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