With the NFL artificially preventing college football players from entering the league due to trumped-up concerns that they aren’t physically ready to compete with grown men, the decision of Alabama coach Nick Saban to use former NFL players on his scout team undercuts that principle — and exposes it for the nonsense that it is.
But don’t criticize Saban for doing something that seems inappropriate in light of the NFL’s loud insistence that players less than three years removed from high school aren’t ready to face grown men. Because Saban doesn’t like to be criticized, for that or for anything.
“[E]verybody is complaining that we did it and they want to change the rule,” Saban said on his weekly radio show, via Michael Casagrande of AL.com. “We didn’t break any rules. If they want to change the rule, they can change the rule. I don’t care what rules they change if it’s the same for everybody. I just wish people would quit complaining about what we do — that’s allowed by the rules — and why don’t they just do it. I hear this all the time. I hear this all the time.”
Just because the rules allow something doesn’t make it right. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with able-bodied college athletes competing against able-bodied former college athletes. The problem with this approach arises from the impact it has on the credibility of the league’s refusal to allow college-age players to attempt to play pro football until they have spent three years out of high school.
The next step, barring a change in the rules, possibly will entail former college players who currently don’t have NFL jobs joining the scout team at their college and then leaving when they have another NFL opportunity. At that point, guys like Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops can accuse them of quitting on their teammates.