Brock Bowers’ selfless NIL move shows Georgia still has big picture in mind while chasing three-peat

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NASHVILLE — After helping Georgia win its second consecutive national championship, Brock Bowers was named first-team All-SEC, first-team All-American and the John Mackey Award winner as the nation’s top tight end last season.

He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 230 pounds, with the kind of soft hands and fast legs that don’t normally pair with such a frame. He enters his junior season at Georgia as one of the best players in the country. Had NFL Draft rules allowed it, he’d already be a pro. Instead he’ll wait until spring to get drafted.

If there was ever a college football player who deserved to cash in on any and every penny afforded to him under new Name, Image and Likeness rules, it’s Bowers.

And yet …

This offseason Bowers declined a deal with Georgia’s Classic City Collective, which provides monetary and business support to all Bulldog athletes.

His reasoning is that he already has professional representation and due to his performance-based fame has plenty of options to earn revenue through traditional advertising and sponsorship deals.

As such, he’d prefer whatever was going to go to him get put back in the pot to increase the amount for everyone else.

“I feel like I had kind of my own stuff going on that I didn’t really need that kind of support,” Bowers said here Tuesday at SEC media days. “I felt like they could just focus on some of the other guys or other sports.”

Brock Bowers of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates a touchdown during the national championship game against Texas Christian on Jan. 9, 2023. (Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Brock Bowers of the Georgia Bulldogs celebrates a touchdown during the national championship game against Texas Christian on Jan. 9, 2023. (Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Georgia is seeking its third consecutive national title, something no modern team has ever accomplished. The 1934-36 Minnesota Gophers did it, but that was so long ago Bulldog coach Kirby Smart didn’t seem to even know about it. When he discusses three-peats and dynasties with his players, he brings up the Chicago Bulls and even New Zealand’s “All Blacks” national rugby team.

“No offense to the Minnesota 1935 team, but I don’t know if it’s going to resonate with my audience,” Smart said with a laugh.

There is a reason it is so rare, of course. And part of it is that success often leads to splintered interests and a culture of individual over team.

Bowers’ NIL decision won’t earn Georgia a point against Alabama or LSU. It’s actually just smart business. But it does suggest that this team still has something special going for it, including a culture of togetherness bolstered, not busted up, by those trophies.

“One of the things I’m trying to do better at is be a better leader,” Bowers said.

“The threat for us is complacency,” Smart said. “The first thing you have to do is acknowledge that it’s a threat. Like if you acknowledge that complacency is a threat, it’s the first step towards stomping it out.”

Georgia is 29-1 the last two seasons. It will enter this one as the favorite to win it all again. If anything, last year was supposed to be the down year between title teams. Instead the Bulldogs won it all.

The talent is there. So is the experience. The entire coaching staff returned too — a rarity, Smart notes, for a title team. Everything is there as long as the Bulldogs don’t kick it away.

“‘Better never rests,’” Smart said. “We believe that. Those are strong words now when you think about it. Think deep on it. ‘Better never rests.’

“Our kids understand it. Our kids have learned it. What drives us for this season is intrinsic motivation. We’re not going to be controlled by outside narratives and what people say and who’s going to be the quarterback. The intrinsic motivation comes from within and what we decide to do.”

Smart seems to believe they are accomplishing their goal of staying hungry. He talked about Bowers taking on multiple players in conditioning drills. Or how center Kamari Lassiter talks about how his mom working multiple jobs to support him drives him each day. Or the push from younger players who have been fighting to get on the field and want to win this.

Smart has built the best program in America. Recruiting is ridiculous. The buy-in is significant. The system, from in-game to offseason development, is nearly flawless. Smart was asked what he thought Georgia could get better at this season.

“There’s a lot of things we can do better,” he said.

Such as?

“We can play much better pass defense late in the season,” Smart offered. “We can grow as a team and continue to get better on our special teams assets.”

In other words, not much.

If Georgia is going to be stopped, part of it has to come from internal strife. Better never rests though and it doesn’t appear the Bulldogs will either.

If nothing else, its big-name superstar is trying to spread some of the wealth. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Or maybe it says everything about this team.

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