Kirk Herbstreit caught a lot of heat last weekend when he said “I think this era of player just doesn’t love football” to punctuate the rise in college football players who opt out of bowl games in order to avoid injury and prepare for the more important NFL draft.

By that logic, Herbstreit must think Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow doesn’t love football either now that he’s said he won’t play in Week 18’s game against the Cleveland Browns despite being capable of doing so.

Burrow and the Bengals clinched a spot in the playoffs but there’s still something to play for. However, given Burrow’s knee injury and a desire to make sure he’s as healthy as possible for those win-or-go-home games, it makes sense to have him sit out this one.

In theory, the Bengals could still earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC, which comes with a first-round bye. However, for that to happen, they’d have to not only win this weekend but the Titans, Chiefs, and Bills would all have to lose, which seems very unlikely given who those teams are playing.

The smart move remains to let Burrow rest, avoid further injury, and think long-term, just like what those college football players who opt out of bowl games do.

Given the circumstances the recency of Herbstreit’s comments, however, a lot of NFL folks had fun with the situation at Kirk’s expense on social media.

In all seriousness, if the Bengals do lose and they end up with an unfavorable matchup, there could be some talk about whether or not this was the right move. But chances are, most people will agree that looking ahead to a game that matters is worth resting during a game that really doesn’t.

[Paul Dehner]

About Sean Keeley

Sean Keeley is the creator of the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and author of 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and many other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.