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Golden Nuggets: Kendrick Payne discusses the O'Bannon case and the true lives of Cal student-athletes

A former defensive lineman weighs in on his life after Cal, the O'Bannon case and the prospect of paying players, and life as a NCAA student-athlete.

Payne (left) and his fellow student-athletes, who he believes suffer financial hardships as college football players
Payne (left) and his fellow student-athletes, who he believes suffer financial hardships as college football players

Calumnus DL Kendrick Payne (2008–12) was the feature of a New York Times story on the O'Bannon case that's suing the NCAA for the right to pay college athletes for the use of their likenesses. Despite having a degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley, Payne has spent his time briefly hopping around NFL teams, doing odd jobs of manual labor, and working as a Lyft driver with aspirations for grad or business school. As for his thoughts on the case:

"Football players, we're definitely blessed," he said. "I had an amazing experience at Cal. But why does that mean I can't want more? Why can't I want what's fair?"


"The more removed from playing you are, the more you look back and shake your head at what you gave the school and what the school gave you," Lynch said, noting that California had the lowest graduation rate among Football Bowl Subdivision teams, according to N.C.A.A. data released in October. "I laugh when I think that I used to go from a business class, where all we talked about was free-market economics, straight to football practice, where it's the exact opposite."

The story also gives us a little update on a number of former Cal players, namely Ben "Not Marshawn" Lynch; Bill Tyndall, a plaintiff in the suit; and John Tyndall, Bill's brother, who added:

"Most players want to see things change," said John Tyndall, Bill's brother and another former California football player. "But my feelings are mixed. I don't know how athletic departments will be affected. I don't want college football to turn into the N.F.L."

Payne gave some insight about the true lives of Cal student-athletes.

When he first arrived, Payne said, his meal plan did not cover summer workouts, so there were times when he went hungry. One of his roommates, a fellow teammate, sent his entire cost-of-living stipend home to support his family, he said.

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