Following the 2016 college football season, both LSU's Leonard Fournette and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey made the decision to sit out their respective bowl games. 

People got hot about this issue. Folks were bothered. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott blasted the guys for skipping the bowl game, although he later walked it back.

Professional football analysts Marshall Faulk (NFL Network and a Hall of Fame running back), Kirk Herbstreit and Danny Kanell (previously of ESPN) were not pleased with the decision.

College football head coach Mark Richt called the decision "sad."

"I think it's sad, personally," Richt said. "Football is the greatest team sport there is, and I think until the season is over, you should be with your team, really and truly."

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he would be concerned by that if he was looking at potentially drafting a player who decided to bail on the bowl game. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn't a fan of the move either. Plenty of general managers had questions for McCaffrey about the decision at the combine.

Many people also came out in support of the players' respective decisions.

There are viable arguments for each side. 

But here's the bottom line: When the 2017 NFL Draft kicked off, neither Fournette, taken No. 4 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, nor McCaffrey, taken No. 8 by the Carolina Panthers, suffered personally as a result of not playing in a bowl game.

Those bowl games, by the way, do feature above average (mostly) gifts from sponsors, a convenient way to circumvent the NCAA's arcane bylaws and provide student-athletes some sort of compensation while they continue to play football for free. 

But they do not provide the ability to magically heal a knee injury suffered in competition -- if McCaffrey blew out his ACL against North Carolina while playing in the Sun Bowl (which was actually an awesome game with tons of NFL prospects), he isn't a top-10 pick.

He would lose, literally, millions of dollars. But those memories of El Paso would have never vanished.

There's not a right or wrong answer here, by the way. If you play and don't get hurt, that's great. Even Jaylon Smith, who suffered an injury in the very bowl game Zeke Elliott complained about, said he would still play. 

That's Smith's prerogative, and it's really the whole point here.

It isn't my choice, it isn't your choice, it isn't Danny Kanell's choice and it isn't some Twitter egg's choice. It is the choice of the person playing in the game as to whether they want to play. 

If that player believes he has a spot locked up in the top 10 and wants to skip the game to guarantee he doesn't get hurt, he should be able to make that decision free from the criticism of people who are, you know, not him. And people who, you know, would not do their own jobs without being compensated.

Loving football, loving your teammates and wanting to maximize your health and financial well-being are not things that should be mutually exclusive.