Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the first pick in the 2021 NFL draft, and is one of the most highly-anticipated prospects in history, but what happens if he decided he didn’t want to play for the Jacksonville Jaguars?
As crazy as it might sound, a college footballer refusing to play for the NFL team he is selected by, it’s actually happened before.
Eli Manning had an incredible career in the league, spending 15 years with the New York Giants and winning two Vince Lombardi trophies – with twin Super Bowl MVP awards to go with them.
However, his glittering career in New York was never meant to happen, as he was originally drafted by the San Diego Chargers.
Going into the 2004 NFL Draft, Manning was the overwhelming favourite to be taken first.
But as the ceremony at Madison Square Garden approached, rumours started to circulate that the Ole Miss quarterback would refuse to play if he was selected by the Chargers.
At the time, Manning confirmed his decision by saying: “We’re not really giving details right now, we’ve made our decisions and that’s what we’re sticking to.”
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It was widely reported that Manning’s family wanted him to go to an Eastern Conference team.
Regardless, Manning was selected, and strolled up to the podium with a grimace on his face and didn’t even crack a smile when given his new jersey.
The Giants selected North Carolina State quarterback Philip Rivers, but he wouldn’t be a Giant for long.
Just minutes later, while then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue was still reading out draft picks, the Giants and Chargers agreed to swap their selections.
Manning got his wish of playing in New York, and Rivers went on to play for the Chargers for another 16 years before a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts.
While there is no expectation that Lawrence will have any problems playing in Jacksonville, there’s clearly precedent for if he decided to play elsewhere.