Jaguars LB Telvin Smith Calls For Break From Football

Dr. Roto discusses the decision Jaguars Telvin Smith made about taking a break from the game of football. What does Doc think about this choice?

Telvin Smith
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports


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Daily Dr. Roto—May 10, 2019

Mr. Smith Takes a Break

We all need a break from our daily routines. Some of us choose to play golf, go fishing, take a vacation, or spend time with family. Rarely, if ever, though do we take an extended break from our work, especially when we have signed a contract with our employer.

Jacksonville Jaguars LB Telvin Smith announced today that he is taking a break from playing football for the 2019 season. Smith is in the midst of a four-year/$45 million contract with the team. If the Jaguars choose to cut Smith prior to his contract being over they will take a $7 million cap hit.

In his announcement about this situation, Smith wrote: “It was said to me from a great coach that in order for the man to be his best, he must get his world in order. At this time I must take time away from this game and get my world in order,” Smith wrote. “I must give this time back to myself, my family and my health. I appreciate all the support I will and will not get. I just ask y’all to respect my decision to not play football this season.”

What makes this even more interesting is that the Jaguars seemed to have little or no idea that this was going to happen: “We will not have a comment about Telvin Smith’s statement at this time. We need to have a conversation with Telvin to understand the situation and the circumstances. If there is a way we can support him we need to understand that.”

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Doc’s Reaction

How can a player make a unilateral decision without consulting his team? Should the team be able to sue him for a contract that was unfulfilled? Doesn’t he owe more than that to his employers and teammates? And, more importantly, shouldn’t Smith have said something to the team prior to April’s draft which might have allowed Jacksonville to plan for this possibility?

I am all for mental health. In fact, Mrs. Roto is really “Dr.Roto” in that she is a psychologist who takes pride in helping people through different adversities. I respect that Smith feels that he needs some time away from the game to focus on himself and his family to become a better person. What I can’t accept, however, is for him to have decided this unilaterally without sitting down with the team to discuss his options.

Smith’s actions might bring great reverberations around the league as other players could choose to take time off for one reason or another. Future contracts might need to have new provisions in them to avoid this and/or the commissioner’s office might need to intervene to help make sure that these events don’t run rampant throughout the league.

Smith might need a break, but the NFL is a business and businesses don’t take breaks because money never sleeps.

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