School picture day came and went for the Jacksonville Jaguars last week and Leonard Fournette was nowhere to be found. Instead, he opted to bail on his team who then repaid the favor by benching his ass. But this doesn’t appear to be the first time Fournette’s failed to adhere to team rules and, in fact, it’s likely one of many that led to his ultimate benching. This is nothing new. Young, incredibly talented players do – and have always done – stupid shit. Does that stupid shit warrant closer inspection? Yes, yes it does.
At this point, the will they/won’t they saga surrounding Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension has become the Ross and Rachel of NFL player discipline cases. Just consummate the damn thing already. The constant injunctions and stays thereof have fans and fantasy owners all over the country holding their collective breath on a near-daily basis as they wait to learn whether or not Elliott will take the field each week. The whole situation is made all the more suspect by the NFL’s long history of mishandling player punishment for off-the-field issues. In light of the league’s handling of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, it’s hard not to feel that the league’s intention here was to make an example of Elliott, his guilt or innocence aside, even if that meant ignoring the findings of the league’s own investigator.
Just as Roger Goodell appeared to single out Tom Brady for punishment in the aftermath of Deflategate – a gesture intended to show that no one, not even the Golden Boy, is above (Goodell’s strange idea of) the law – it was Zeke’s insanely impressive first year that put him in the spotlight and primed him for punishment. Guys, the NFL is kind of a fucked up league.
Nope. Not touching that one.
Eddie Lacy was great. In his first two seasons, dude rushed for over 2,200 yards, scored 24 touchdowns and made it to the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He made the Packers look unstoppable. Until 2015, that is.
To be fair, Lacy didn’t have a terrible 2015. He averaged 4.1 yards per carry and caught 20 balls but he only scored five times and struggled to get anything going on a consistent basis. That was just a prelude for 2016 when Lacy found himself on injured reserve after playing in only five games. Oh, and he got fat mid-season.
Obviously, it’s not Lacy’s fault that he was only given the ball 187 times1 in 2015, nor is it his fault for getting injured the following year. (You could argue that it was his fault for getting fat.) Regardless, his success in those first two seasons clearly set him up for failure because anything less than exceptional was not going to be accepted. And less than exceptional he was. He wound up on a four-running-back team in Seattle and now he’s seeing hardly a fraction of the playing time he used to. He’s on pace for 112 carries and less than 300 yards this year. Ouch.
This one is so obvious it hurts. In two years at Texas A&M, Manziel became a fucking legend. The problem was, it wasn’t just his draft stock that rocketed up the charts. So did his ego. Fans loved/hated him. His jersey sales approached record numbers for a rookie. He was pegged as the savior of a franchise that had desperately needed one since, well, forever. But that never came to fruition. Manziel ended up starting only eight games for the Browns during his short career and won a total of two games.
The bulk of Manziel’s issues weren’t on the field – mostly because the Browns sucked and no one expected them to do anything anyway. No, Johnny “I can’t say his nickname because I’m afraid to get sued” Manziel got famous and hit the clubs harder than a tablet that so clearly deserves it. Drinking, partying and domestic violence charges ended Manziel’s time in the NFL after only two incomplete seasons and now he’s spending his days back where it all began in College Station, studying – I shit you not – parks and recreation.
Rumor is he’s planning to write his master’s thesis on The Good Place because, like, that show is amazing.