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Critics cannot have it both ways with Cardale Jones’ decision

Cardale Jones announced he is coming back for one more year at Ohio State.

On Thursday, three days after helping Ohio State win a national championship, Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones announced at a press conference in Cleveland he will return for one more year of school. Jones had become a hot topic among NFL Draft circles in the past few days, with many suggesting he would be wise to leave Ohio State for the NFL after one of the more unique three-start careers in the history of the sport. Instead, Jones was chastised for his announcement by some.

Cardale Jones simply could not win in the court of public opinion on Thursday, and that is ridiculous.

Go back to October 2012 when Jones took to Twitter for what has been the most notable moment of his college career in Columbus until the past month. By now we are all familiar with his infamous tweet about school…

Ohio State QB Cardale Jones shared this rather infamous tweet about school in October 2012.

Ohio State QB Cardale Jones shared this rather infamous tweet about school in October 2012.

Jones was ripped for this statement by many, though lauded by some. I know I ripped him for that tweet, but time has a way of healing wounds and allowing for forgiveness as people grow and opinions change. On Thursday, Jones showed maturity in his decision and his announcement to pass on the NFL and remain in school.

“My decision was very simple,” Jones said. “I’m going to return next year for school.”

Jones then continued to drive the point home about the importance of leaving Ohio State with his education.

“Being a first-round draft pick means nothing to me without my education,” Jones said.

On if he might be missing out on his best shot at the NFL, Jones replied “Definitely, but my education is going to take me 10 times further than my athletic ability.”

If it was all for show, it was quite a good one. Or maybe, just maybe, this young man has matured since that tweet nearly two and a half years ago.

Criticism aimed at Jones came from left and right as he announced his decision to not turn pro. The hype and anticipation sure seemed as though Jones was set to announce a decision to enter the NFL Draft. I never thought it was a good way to go given his limited exposure, but as the moment drew near I was starting to believe more and more he was actually going to enter the NFL Draft. then he didn’t, and the hot takes came rapid fire.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggested Jones was to blame for making more of a big deal out of the announcement than anyone in the media. Dan Shanoff of For The Win (from USA Today) explained why Jones made the wrong decision, although I took issue with his first point.

I’m guessing Peyton Manning didn’t undergo similar scrutiny in 1997 when he announced he was returning to Tennessee rather than be drafted by the New York Jets.

The reason Jones made his decision public in front of the crowd he did reportedly had a good reason behind it. He wanted to show the importance of education to his community that helped him growing up. This was not a glory hound starving for attention. This was a golden opportunity for a kid from Cleveland to come back home and put on a public display the value of going to school. This, apparently, was reason for concern for some. Some want to rip Jones for a single tweet about school two and a half years ago and rip him again when he decides to stay in school. We cannot have it both ways.

With the decision now made, let this be the time to retire the stale jokes and comments about Jones coming to play school. If he has shown the ability to evolve from that moment, maybe we should all do the same.

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.