John Steigerwald: Let college football players go to NFL when they’re ready
Break up the NFL.
While you’re at it, break up the NBA, the NHL and MLB. And, oh yeah, the NCAA. But let’s start with the NFL.
Have you heard the story about Chase Young? He is the defensive end at Ohio State who is considered to be the consensus first overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.
He was suspended and missed Ohio State’s game against Maryland on Saturday because he took a loan from a “family friend” and used the money to buy his girlfriend an airplane ticket to last January’s Rose Bowl.
His team was able to squeak by without him Saturday, 73-14.
There’s lots of speculation about whether the family friend was an agent, how much the loan was for and how he was able to pay it back.
None of it should be anybody’s business.
Scroll around and you will find 99% of the sports media’s reaction to this story is it’s just one more example of why NCAA athletes should be paid.
The NCAA’s not the bad guy here. It’s the NFL.
If Young is good enough to be projected as the first pick in the draft in April, he’s good enough to play in the NFL today. But he’s not eligible for the NFL Draft until three years after his class graduates from high school.
If not for the NFL — for some reason, the only major professional football league in America — protecting it’s free farm system with an idiotic age requirement, Young could be making enough money to buy his own plane.
When Young found out a few days ago he was going to be suspended, he should have been able to say, “Never mind. I quit. I’m turning pro.” Let the NFL work it out with its teams to determine who gets to sign him.
A supplemental draft might be the way to go. The Bengals could have drafted him, signed him and played him Sunday.
Ohio State and the NCAA would hate it, of course, as would many of your favorite sports journalists who cover college football, especially those in the Columbus, Ohio, area.
For some reason, the media give the NFL and the other monopolistic major sports league a pass and slam the colleges for not paying their athletes.
If it’s supposed to be students playing sports in exchange for an education, why should the athlete be stuck with living the life of a poor college student for five minutes longer than he wants to be?
Is the contract Young signed when he accepted the scholarship strong enough to force him to play college football instead of pro?
There will be lots of time wasted trying to find out if the person who loaned the money to Young qualifies as a family friend and what the penalty should be.
The focus should be on the stupidity of allowing the NFL to monopolize professional football to the point where it can keep a perfectly qualified player from earning a living.
Who cares what effect Young’s leaving would have on Ohio State’s chances of winning a Mythical National Championship?
I mean, other than Ohio State coaches, fans and media fanboys, of course.
If college football is going to serve as the NFL’s free farm system, then let players get called up to the big leagues whenever they’re ready. It happens all the time in the NHL and Major League Baseball.
Guys like Young will make more than enough money to pay for college in the offseason if they give up their scholarships.
There’s not a team in the NFL that couldn’t use him right now.
Stop with the idiotic fights over eligibility and stop the hypocrisy.
Let Ohio State find another student to play defensive end.
Pay the man.
John Steigerwald is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.