There's been gallons and gallons of piping-hot virtual ink spilled over the last week about whether or not an individual human being should be required to play in a football game that he's not being paid to play in. Put differently: Everyone has opinions about Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette not playing in their respective bowl games.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ripped the kids for skipping the game before backtracking. Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who actually suffered a major knee injury in a bowl game, said he would still go back and play.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, always a thoughtful and typically unfiltered quote on these things, spoke with Mad Dog Sports Radio and blasted the NCAA and bowl game setup for being "absolutely ridiculous" in terms of how it compensates players.
"The NCAA makes so much money off of their kids and they put ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous, restrictions on everything that they can do. At the same time [the NCAA] is making billions and billions of dollars, and you give these kids a bowl game, a couple ribbons and a Game Boy," Rodgers said. "We got to think of other ways to help these kids out because there's a lot of kids who get hurt in college and then don't make it to the NFL and don't have insurance and their entire lives are changed when they put their bodies on the line for their school.
"We talk in our sport a lot of the numbers associated with unemployment and bankruptcy after guys have retired, especially guys that retire young and are out of the league in two to three years, what about the kids who never got a chance to make it to the NFL and are out there having a hard time trying to find work based on lingering concussion issues or degenerative knee conditions or any of the various injuries that our fellow brothers are having in the college ranks and then they're not able to play.
"It affects them for the rest of their lives and they have no compensation or help from the school that they put their bodies and their lives on the line for."
Rodgers is 100 percent spot on here.
Yelling and screaming about being a good teammate and doing what's right for the school and the football team and about being selfish and about taking care of your family is all well and good.
But it largely ignores the bigger picture here, which is that college football players are laying it all on the line and none them are getting paid by the system despite the NCAA printing money left and right, soaking in hundreds of bowl sponsorships and making everyone but the athletes themselves rich.
The sensible thing would be to take all of this money and help get the people who are playing the games paid, but that's probably not something that is going to happen any time soon.