The Jadeveon Clowney saga has taken many turns, since the propaganda from the likes of ESPN, that was at one point, promoting him into some sort of untouchable and immortal freak.
Not to say Clowney isn't having a solid season from a technical standpoint; he's forcing quick throws, teams are running the ball away from him and he’s drawing double teams consistently. But now, his hype is dying down at an accelerated rate. And this past Saturday, his decision to sit out against Kentucky citing bruised ribs, has caused turmoil with the South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier.
One must wonder if there could be a possibility of many scenarios being played out. What could drive Clowney to the point that he would tell Spurrier at the last possible minutes that he couldn’t play?
Here are three possible, but logical reasons Clowney self-elected to sit out.
1. The Culture at USC.
I read in Shaquille O’Neal’s book where in one chapter he told a interesting story about a film session during his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a play that LeBron James didn’t run back on defense and head coach Mike Brown was mum on the sequence. But once Delonte West didn’t move quick enough back on defense, Brown let him have it. Shaq, in only his fashion of course, spoke up. He painted a picture that Cleveland had the mindset LeBron was of-all-and be all, rightfully so. The culture at USC conceivably could be catering to Clowney in the likes of a LeBron James. So much so, that Clowney may feel he can do as he pleases. That's just a thought, though, as no one has discreet access to the Gamecock locker room but mainly the players and local media. But, you don’t see many players’ electing to not go on the field to perform. But, once again, it's just a thought.
2. Possible Randy Moss Effect.
Many skeptics will just pin this on Clowney and his apparent "I play when I want to play" attitude and approach to this season. While I can resonate with that opinion, I can't say that he hasn't had an impact on the opposing teams’ offensive game plan, nonetheless. But to say the least, you can't blame Clowney even if he does have that Randy Moss type approach/outlook. Nevertheless, that doesn't make it right if this scenario is the case. An athlete with immeasurable talent can become content, if things don’t go according to plan. Keep in mind, in high school Clowney amassed 69.5 sacks in his career. The competition for most of his career was top notch in South Carolina (4A) until his senior season, in which South Pointe High School was demoted to a 3A classification. When you are clear-cut the most gifted player on the field, things will usually become easy. But of course, it’s also a possibility that you may feel you don’t have to work as hard as the next man, because your talent will get you through the game. As stated before, this is just a thought/scenario.
3. Protecting Draft Status.
This could possibly and most likely be the reason he elected to sit out. Many fans have become well aware, that Clowney doesn't want to harm his status as a potential top draft pick. It's also well aware, that Clowney has endless potential and far-evident talent. But no one in Gamecock country wants to see another football causality i.e. Marcus Lattimore. Of course, Lattimore nearly destroyed his knee and lost out on the opportunity to gross millions of dollars in the NFL. Clowney, perhaps, doesn't want to take that chance.
Maybe he should have sat out a year? Imaginably, although it seems unrealistic that it would have happened. But definitely questions will arise about the star players’ commitment to play. Whether they are fair, true or false etc. one thing that can be universally established, is that Clowney knows and understands his worth.