The following is an open letter to Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa:

Dear Tua,

Please don’t go.

We know that is a selfish reaction, and the holiday season isn’t really a time to be selfish, but …

Please don’t go.

Don’t go grab the millions in the NFL. All that cash will still be there next year, after all. And your draft stock can only improve with 1 more mind-bending season operating the Alabama Crimson Tide offense as only you can.

Please don’t go.

Don’t take the money and run. That’s what the Cam Newtons of the world do. You’re not Cam Newton. You’re the anti-Cam Newton. Friends don’t let friends act like booger eaters, ya know?

Please don’t go.

We figure you set the table for a triumphant return Thursday, when you met with the statewide media for the first time since you dislocated your hip and broke a bone in your hip against Mississippi State last month. And while we saw the glimmer in your eye when you talked about wearing pajama pants to the proceedings while discussing what you called “the most important decision of your life.”

Please don’t go.

Tua … we can call you Tua, because we’re on that level now … the risk of falling to the end of the 1st round because of your injury means you should come back for your senior season and raise that draft stock to where it was before your injuries. And you know that, because you were asked Thursday that, if the NFL feedback you get is that you’re still in position to be a top-10 or top-15 draft pick at worst, would it be tough to pass up turning pro at that point?

“Yeah, I think that’d be tough to pass up,” you replied. “But I think there’s a lot more to it than that in some aspects. I don’t want to say too much because what me and my family talk about, we kind of want to be with me and my family.”

If you were going, you wouldn’t have had this talk. But instead, you were open and honest.

There, right there, is the rub. We know you’re full of Bama, Tua. We know your family is as well. Heck, they live here now. Your younger brother, Taulia, needs you to provide support and guidance through the ultra-competitive waters of Alabama football.

And you know you left something on the table this season — not the operating table, either. You fought and bled — literally — and went under the knife twice for the name of the Crimson Tide. We know what Alabama football means to you. That’s why you stayed away from practice the week of the Iron Bowl.

“It’s pretty hard, you know,” you said, “playing with these guys for 3 years and then you get hurt and you go to practice and the only thing you can do is watch and you really can’t too do much else.”

Please don’t go.

If it is just a money decision, Tua, it is increasingly clear you should stay and take your chances. Sliding down to, let’s say, No. 20 in the draft could cost maybe $25 million. And because of the nature of your injury, you can’t with any degree of confidence say that your hip will be 100 percent by the time Commissioner Roger Goodell enunciates the first 32 selections of the NFL Draft on April 23.

That means teams would be drafting on educated advice. On game tape. On a flyer. On assumed talent after a potentially catastrophic injury. Also, Tua, April 23 isn’t the real deadline. January 20 is — the date you and the rest of college football’s underclassmen need to declare their intentions.

“This isn’t something that I can rush,” you said Thursday of your desire to come back and play next season, whether that’s in the NFL or back at Alabama. “If I want to play to my full potential, I know I can’t just come back and play on it as if it were my ankle. I think a lot that has to go into my decision-making, too, as to whether I stay or leave.”

Not rushing your decision should also mean not rushing to the NFL. Yes, Tua, we understand your doctors are optimistic about a full recovery. Yes, Tua, we get that everyone with a medical degree who has evaluated you have told you that you will “be able to go out there and play football again at 100 percent.”

Not that we recommend listening to Auburn folk, as a matter of practicality. But there is sound counsel within the conversation you had with former Tigers star Bo Jackson, who visited with you last week at Jordan-Hare Stadium before the game we are all trying to forget.

“He gave me some insight on not trying to rush the process in trying to get back,” you said. “People say our situations are similar, and they are two totally different situations with our hips.”

Bo knows, a swooshed company once told us. And he knows what he is talking about with this one. Don’t rush the process. Enjoy your final season at Alabama. Lord knows you’ll be embraced in Tuscaloosa for one final go-round like no one ever has.

There are tons of miserable rich people. The ones who are loved are the truly rich ones, right?

You want to play next year, you reiterated Thursday afternoon. There’s nothing wrong with that. No one is suggesting you should sit out 2020 and just get healthy. But come back home to the world-class facilities and rehabilitation you have at your fingertips to get back to 100 percent, and then ride off into the 2020 sunset with more rings, maybe Mr. Stiff Arm, and a legacy fully intact.

“I’ve played hurt many times over the course of the 2 years that I’ve been the starter here. But I’d like to say this is just a totally different situation. This is a unique situation,” you told us all. “This isn’t something that I can rush. If I want to play to my full potential, I know that I can’t just come back and play on it as if it were my ankle. It’s just something that I need to take into consideration. Me wanting to play, I think a lot of that has to go into my decision-making, too, as to whether I stay or leave.”

So talk to your family, because we know we speak for your Crimson Tide family when we say this…

Please don’t go.

Yours in Crimson,