Hard lessons of Shayne Skov

Hard lessons of Shayne Skov
September 20, 2011, 6:23 pm
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Somewhere, Andrew Luck may be thinking about Shayne Skov and considering one of those there but for the grace of God matters.

We know, on the other hand, that Skov is mostly cursing his own buzzards luck.

Skov, the heart, soul and spleen of the Stanford defense, blew his knee out Saturday during the early stages of the Cardinals win over Arizona in Tucson, and it didnt take more than one replay to see that the injury was going to be a bad one.

As a result, Skov loses a year of what would have been largely enjoyable football with his mates, because one of the things that is a universal in sports is that when youre a member of the team but you cant play because of injury, you become a member with an asterisk. It doesnt matter whether your teammates treat you every bit as well as they did when you were a contributor -- you feel it anyway. Teams are concentric circles, and the injured are a part of the second circle. It is simply the nature of the animal.
NEWS: Stanford loses Skov for season

And it is the exact scenario that must have played in Lucks head when he was wrestling, albeit briefly, with the idea of skipping this season to become Cam Newton instead of Cam Newton.

This isnt about Luck, or Skov, though. It is about the first major gamble in a young persons life -- when to do what you love for free means risking the possibility of being able to do it for money later, It is a crass but very real consideration that not even paying college athletes would truly ameliorate.

Football is the worst of the team sports for this because it has the highest injury rate, the percentage of players who can consider a future in the game is relatively small, and the decision-makers can and do move off a player far faster than they moved onto them in the first place.

The more highly-regarded the player, the greater the fall. Skov was one of those players, a very likely draft pick and perhaps a high one. His size and speed made him an intriguing candidate at both linebacker and safety, and his play both last year and this warranted that consideration.

More directly, his value to the Stanford defense and the men with whom he served and led is palpable, as they will discover in the weeks to come.

Now all that is, as they say, under review, and even if Luck is not your standard athletic narcissist (and we make no judgment either way, lacking the ability to peer into his soul), he surely considered Skov as more than a teammate and friend. He must have at least thought momentarily of Skov as a potential cautionary tale, to be considered, processed and then walled out of his mind, because of the superstition that says, If you think about getting hurt, you will get hurt.

Football is a hard business even for the elite, which is why there is such a mad scramble for cash right now, and why the players are well within their rights to ask for a chunk thereof.

But the mercenary aspects for Shayne Skov were about future earnings, the kind of earnings the NCAA believes in most because they are the kind of earnings the colleges arent on the hook for. He lost a year, and maybe he can get it back by playing at Stanford next season; the choice is his.

That choice, though, has serious business ramifications now, and Skov has to weigh his love of the game against a whole new set of calculations -- adult stuff, no question.

Andrew Luck is quietly doing the same math in his head, because he is not oblivious to his surroundings, or the business he has chosen. That is, if he doesnt mind being attached to a quotation from Hyman Roth in The Godfather.

And even if he does, the facts remain the same. Its all trying to put a dollar sign on the muscle, pure and simple.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.

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