The person least in need of a college football season appears to be the one who wants it the most.
Trevor Lawrence is months away from becoming an overnight millionaire. That path doesn’t require him to throw another pass. Amid COVID-19 concerns nationwide, Lawrence could join other potential first-round picks in 2021 and sit out the season. He could opt out and likely cruise to the status of No. 1 overall pick. He’s not just a QB. He’s a generational talent, perhaps the best QB prospect we’ve seen since Andrew Luck.
Yet fade quietly into the background he will not. Lawrence hammed the “we want to play this fall” narrative throughout the weekend as Power Five leagues across the country are reportedly on the cusp of postposing the season.
“People are at just as much, if not more risk, if we don’t play,” Lawrence said on Twitter. “Players will all be sent home to their own communities where social distancing is highly unlikely and medical care and expenses will be placed on the families if they were to contract COVID-19. Not to mention the players coming from situations that are not good for them/their future and having to go back to that.
“Football is a safe haven for so many people. We are more likely to get the virus in everyday life than playing football.”
Safety is at the heart of the conversation surrounding the 2020 season. Discussions of liability, feasibility and perception are central in every conference’s discussion in recent weeks about the feasibility of playing college football. Those concerns are stacking up quickly, and they’re likely to come to a head over the next few days.
Yet from the purest sense of sport, one has to admire Lawrence’s desire to make one more run with the Clemson Tigers. This is a player who’s won almost everything there is to be won at this point in his career. He’s 25-1 as a starter at Clemson with a national championship ring on his finger. He holds a myriad of high school passing records in Georgia and is a two-time state champion.
There’s nothing left for Lawrence to prove — nothing.
Yet here he is clamoring to play a few more games with his guys. That idea, one final run with your teammates or one final year of college with your friends, is a feeling anyone can understand. It’s never easy to say goodbye. It’s even harder when a chapter of your life ends abruptly. Lawrence is no different. He wants to have a say in the way his time as a college football player comes to a close. So, he’s speaking out to his 102-thousand followers on Twitter, pleading for a chance to end things on his terms.
Will Lawrence’s words sway decision makers across college football? No. Lawrence can’t shield college football programs from liability amid a pandemic. The system college football is built on ensured COVID-19 would be this devastating. Good luck justifying why an unpaid labor force must play sports amid a pandemic. Perhaps foresight by the NCAA say, 10 years ago, could have saved a season. Yet it’s admirable all the same from a quarterback simply trying to save a final run with his team.
College football will eventually move on without Lawrence. And Lawrence will move on without college football. His future earnings and talent demand that be the case, sooner rather than later. Today isn’t the day to reflect wholly on what Lawrence did for the game. But let’s not forget Lawrence did everything he could to stay behind for a bit longer.
The guy just wants to play.