For the past six years, Leonard Fournette has been labeled as many things. (The Next: (Jim Brown, Hershel Walker, Bo Jackson), a freak of nature, a man child, or a god). Fournette has the opportunity to rewrite SEC history, become the first running back to win the Heisman Trophy since 2009, and be the first runner to be drafted first overall in more than two decades.
Despite all the labels placed upon Fournette, many forget that he is still just a teenager. Unfortunately, he is in an awkward place. Despite having the intangibles of a top-ranked draft pick, he is too young to enter the draft.
According to NFL Operations, “To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for three years and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season. Underclassmen and players who have graduated before using all their college eligibility may request the league’s approval to enter the draft early.” In short, this means that Fournette will be draft eligible in 2017.
Fournette should not be given an exception, but the NFL needs to rethink its eligibility restrictions. Below, you will see my new rule, and reasoning for a new future.
My Proposition: The Fournette Rule
Professional football players in the U.S. should not be forced to attend college. This will allow those who are ready, to enter the draft at a much younger age. For the majority, going to college is a safer option, but there should be little restriction on the decisions of youth and their ability to become professional athletes.
- Those who are drafted out of High School, must join the team that drafts them (unless injury, or desire to quit football).
- If undrafted, a high school player is allowed to sign with a college team.
- Cannot play in Professional Football League (or other International Football League) and later join a college team.
The Fournette Rule’s Effect in 2025:
- Ability for “NFL-Ready” talent to have an instant impact in professional athletics and receive compensation for their lifelong commitment to athletics.
- Some who declared for the draft as high school students will fail, it’s an important lesson for the future. It will teach the youth be level-headed and realistic in choosing between leaving early or going to college.
- NFL Teams will recognize the maturity and decision-making of those who attended college. Ultimately, these students may not have been the best possible prospect, but they value their education and realize the fact that while football is their passion, it won’t last forever.
My Reasoning For The Rule Change:
- Doctors are finding scary information. CTE is the result of repeated hits to the head and football players are at the forefront of these impacts.
- Just in a single season, Purdue University states that the average high school footballer can receive 200 to 1,800 impacts to the brain.
- Let’s say that the average high school football player receives 800 hits to the head in a season. A high school football season can last from 8-12 games, depending on scheduling or playoffs. The season is about sixteen weeks, when accounting for bye weeks and summer two-a-days.
- That means, that the average high school football player receives 50 Head Impacts PER WEEK over the course of a season.
- According to NCAA and its Division I rules, a football player practices nonstop from August 1st to December or January, depending on records or possible bowl selection. Also, colleges are allowed to create a five week “Spring Practice” session. In college, a student athlete practices for eighteen weeks, plus the spring practice sessions.
- With our prior number of 800 hits per season, this jumps by 30% to 1150.
- This means by the course of a college football career, a footballer suffers 4025 hits to the head. If we can reduce this number, we will save careers and lives.
I’d love to hear feedback on my ideas. Truly, this is hypothetical and the National Football League can ignore the words of various writers, including myself. But Leonard Fournette, teenager in a class of his own, can rewrite history and be the tipping point in the demise of Amateur Athletics.
Featured Image via Campus Insiders
Born in NYC x Raised in VA