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John Elway says he understands why some players skip bowl games

Christian McCaffrey ignited a firestorm when he announced in December he would skip Stanford's appearance in the Sun Bowl to protect himself for this spring's NFL Draft.

Despite the fact the Sun Bowl would've passed without a blip had McCaffrey turned an ankle in bowl practices and missed the game through natural causes, for a while there the Sun Bowl was the most take-rich environment on the national sports landscape. The takes, oh take cover at the takes.

The results validated McCaffrey's decision since Stanford beat North Carolina without him and quarterback Keller Chryst suffered a torn ACL.

Still, McCaffrey's decision was criticized through the hypothetical prism of two groups of people: his Stanford teammates and NFL talent evaluators.

We already have testimony from one member of the former group....

... and on Wednesday we got the perspective of a member of the latter group.

Speaking at the NFL Combine, Denver Broncos president and former Stanford quarterback John Elway says his opinion on players skipping bowl games has flipped.

"You know what? I understand it now," Elway told the Denver Post's Nicki Jhabvala. "Obviously when I thought about it, kind of the old school in me wanted to come out and say, 'Why? Why would these guys not play? It's their last game.' This and that. But I tell you what, when you look at where the league is now and you talk about the value of these contracts for these players coming out and the risks they're taking, the old salty guy in me flipped back to understanding. I understand why they didn't play."

The circumstances that led McCaffrey and LSU's Leonard Fournette to skip their respective bowl games were unique to them -- both are running backs, neither was in a major bowl game -- but will be repeated by others in the future.

Think about it this way: Imagine there is a literal pot of gold sitting across two adjacent fields from you. One field is subject to occasional lightning strikes; the odds of you getting struck are microscopic, but they're still there. The other has no such strikes. Be honest with yourself -- are you really crossing through the lightning field if you don't absolutely have to do so?