The ultimate reality show’s ultimate offseason reality show will be a bit less real tonight, to the likely dismay of a Commissioner who likes how the implosion of a young man’s business interests is good for the league’s.
Adam Schefter of ESPN, one of the two networks that benefits directly from draft picks giving up one more night of unpaid services through their attendance at the draft, reports that former UCLA linebacker Myles Jack won’t return to the draft on Friday after plummeting through round one on Thursday.
Three years ago, former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smih initially wasn’t planning to return for round two after not being taken in round one. Some (including me) criticized Smith for the tentative decision, which later was rescinded.
In hindsight, it was wrong of me to criticize Smith for refusing to continue to be an unpaid prop under Big Shield’s big top. I won’t criticize Jack for stiff arming the process, and no one else should, either.
There’s a line between showing up without compensation for a positive, uplifting moment and serving as a pawn in a chess game where the player already has been pinned into checkmate. ESPN and NFL Network will focus Friday night’s coverage on Jack’s ongoing free fall, to the delight of the league. Why should Jack provide the real-time reaction shots?
To his credit, Jack carried himself well last night under significant adversity, showing no reaction as one pick after another went to a player other than him. That fact that Jack showed up at all shows that someone failed to manage his expectations properly, so he’s now doing the smart thing by staying away.
Schefter also reports that Jack has been told by Dr. James Andrews that the player doesn’t need microfracture surgery on his injured knee. Although that too-little-too-late disclosure doesn’t change the fact that Jack said that he possibly may need it in the future (and since Schefter’s report focuses only on the present, there’s a chance Dr. Andrews agrees), it’s good that someone is finally trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Still, the league’s TV show benefitted from the fact that the toothpaste was sprayed all over the place last night, and it’s to the league’s detriment that Jack won’t be there as the last few globs get squeezed out of it.
It’s not known whether the five other players who accepted invitations to the draft will be back for Friday night. Each should strongly consider staying away; after all, last night was about celebrating their future and tonight will be about rubbernecking at the wreckage.