Grantland today did a great job of documenting the sad tale of Marcus Lattimore. More importantly, Michael Baumann does a good job of documenting everything that Lattimore meant to South Carolina, all the money and prestige he brought to the program, and how after a couple of devastating knee injuries, he never played a down for the 49ers before retiring this week.
It reminded me of a conversation I had at Reser Stadium on Saturday night about Sean Mannion. Here’s a kid who had a pretty good shot at getting drafted relatively high last year, but decided to come back for his Senior year on the hopes that he could improve his stock a bit, set a few records and really dominate. In the mean time, Oregon State has his face on everything. They are using his pursuit of the Pac-12 career passing yardage record to sell tickets, jerseys, t-shirt and everything else they can.
By all accounts, here we have a good kid coming back to complete his education, leave the football program in a better place than he left it, and trying to really improve his game. Sean didn’t get injured, but poor offensive line play and injuries up and down the depth chart at receiver have led to a fairly poor season so far. It’s probably done more damage to his draft stock than anything else.
When we see stories like Lattimore, Mannion, David Ash at Texas, who quit football after getting concussions, and many others, you have to wonder, what’s the risk worth? How much money could Lattimore had made after his freshman year? Instead, he had to go back to South Carolina, got hurt and wound up making pennies on the dollar of what his value was before the injuries. South Carolina made mint off of Lattimore, but he saw none of it. Playing for the Gamecocks cost him his knee, and any NFL future, and he has nothing to show for it other than being a fan favorite in Columbia.
Somehow we’re supposed to believe that’s fair, because his tuition was paid for.
I don’t think so.
Photo by kmoliver