Cardale Jones scheduled a press conference at his Cleveland high school, Ginn Academy, on Thursday to announce where he would spend the next year of his life – either in Columbus at Ohio State, or in a to-be-determined NFL city.
All signs indicated that Jones, who led the Buckeyes to their first national championship since 2002 with a 42-20 win over Oregon on Monday, would declare for the NFL Draft. He even tweeted earlier in the day that he would be making a life-changing decision.
As it turned out, the 6-5, 250-pound redshirt sophomore announced that he would return to school and continue his education.
Was this the right call?
“I think it’s great,” NBA legend and social commentator Charles Barkley said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I think the more young black kids who go to school, I think it’s always great for them. Hypothetically, let’s say he goes to the pros and he gets cut after a couple years. He’ll be in no man’s land. I want all of these young black kids to stay in school. We spend so much time – like in the NBA, we worry about 20 guys a year and we forget about the other 99.9 percent. We need to start stressing education to these kids, especially the black kids, so I’m glad he’s staying.”
Had Jones entered the draft, it is unknown when he would have been selected. Fourth round? Second round? First round? We don’t know. We also don’t know whether he’ll be the starter next year in Columbus, as Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett are both slated to return.
Nevertheless, Jones, who has started just three games, is likely making the safe, smart move.
“There’s no guarantee that he was going to make the pros,” Barkley said. “Vince Young’s already out of the pros. Tim Tebow’s already out of the pros. (Jones is) going to get his education. I’m really happy for that kid.”
Interestingly enough, Thursday marked the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., whose holiday we will observe Monday. Gottlieb wondered if we’ve reached a point – at least in sports – where people are judged by their play and character, as opposed to their color.
“Well yeah, of course we are,” Barkley said. “Sports are a different animal. That’s one of the reasons I loved playing sports. Sports is one of the few things that made me feel (like I was on equal footing). Your talent always supersedes everything else. Of course I’d like to see more black coaches in college football and more black coaches in the NFL. But other than that, the sport itself – all across the board – the best guy’s normally going to play.
“But there’s always going to be racism,” Barkley continued. “Let’s get that straight. It happens all the time, unfortunately. It happens to blacks and whites. There’s some black racists out there also. But listen, man, we’ve come a long way. We’ve come a long way. And we’ve still got a ways to go, but man, we’ve come a long way.”