No, Clemson Should Not Give Kelly Bryant a Ring
Yesterday news broke around the college football world that Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney was not going to send Kelly Bryant a championship ring. If you need reminding who Bryant is, he was the Clemson quarterback who took over after Deshaun Watson was drafted by the NFL, and went 16-2 as a starting quarterback for the Tigers. Last season Bryant and freshman phenom Trevor Lawrence split time the first four games, but then was told by coach Swinney that Lawrence had won the starting job. Bryant abruptly quit the team and announced his intentions to transfer, and is now at the University of Missouri. And Clemson would go on to win the national championship.
Now as it’s time to send the championship rings out to everyone, Swinney announced Bryant won’t be getting one. “He wasn’t on the team. You’ve gotta be on the team to get a ring. I love Kelly and appreciate what he did for us, but he decided to move on,” said Swinney. Many support this 100%, but there are others who completely disagree and think that because he played with the team for the first four games, he should receive a ring. They argue that he made contributions to the team in helping them get to the College Football Playoffs and eventually the championship. They directly point to his performance in helping the Tigers beat Texas A&M early in the season and claim that without that win, they may not have received the bid to compete in the final four playoff at the end of the season.
The fact that anyone would argue that Kelly Bryant deserves a ring completely astonishes me. He played just four games of Clemson’s 15 games last season. Actually, a more accurate way to put it is Bryant was on the team for just four games of Clemson’s 15 total games. And they were the first four, at that. He wasn’t there for the championship game, or many games before that. Simply put, he quit the team. He quit on his fellow teammates, his coaches, trainers, fans, fellow students, the football program, and the school.
I understand him wanting to leave for the opportunity to start at quarterback at another college program for his last year of eligibility. However, I didn’t think he should’ve quit. He was clearly on a team with enough talent to win the national championship and was the #2 guy. If Lawrence had gotten injured, Bryant would’ve stepped right in and had the opportunity to guide the team as far as Lawrence did last year. But instead he placed himself first and left the program entirely…which is not what this article is about, to criticize that move. It’s to voice my opinion that if you quit your team (different from MLB players getting traded mid-season and still getting a ring if that team wins the World Series), you should not be able to take part in any post-championship celebrations, nor receive a ring.
Our culture in America has certainly changed in the last 10-15 years and I believe that plays the biggest part in people arguing that he should be receiving a championship ring. The idea that “everyone is a winner” is too widely accepted nowadays. Everyone shouldn’t receive a trophy. If they did, then why should players and teams practice and train harder when they know they will receive a trophy just like the last place team who didn’t practice as hard? That idea is harmful to athletics, as well as to anyone in society trying to “make it.” Kelly Bryant didn’t work for it like the rest of his team did, and therefore doesn’t deserve a ring. Or like Swinney simply put it, “he wasn’t on the team.” You can’t argue that.