A discrepancy has emerged regarding Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette’s decision to skip the Citrus Bowl.
Fournette said in January that coach Ed Orgeron made the decision that Fournette wouldn’t play. Orgeron said Monday that it wasn’t his decision.
“That last game, going into the bowl, Leonard could not play. Leonard came to me in tears. He said, ‘Coach, I can’t go, I can’t play,'” Orgeron said Monday at the SEC Media Days, via NFL.com. “I said, ‘Leonard, I understand, we will not put you in jeopardy, son, don’t worry about it. I will tell the media.’ Things you heard that he may have skipped the game or whatever, that has nothing to do with anything. In fact, against Florida, he didn’t practice all weekend. He wasn’t supposed to play. He tried to play. He wanted to play.”
Here’s Fournette’s version, from early February: “My coach brought me into the office. He told me, ‘You have a lot on the line.’ He didn’t want me to play. I cried like a baby. It was hard for me. That was my first time not really traveling with the team and I couldn’t play in a game with my brothers. I’m going to miss them.”
So Orgeron says Fournette couldn’t play, and Fournette say Orgeron wouldn’t let him. None of it changes the fact that he missed the game and still went fourth overall in the draft. Thus, none of it changes that fact that every elite player, healthy or not, should make a business decision as to whether he’ll play in one last game that is essentially, for most teams, a meaningless exhibition contest.