That's all folks!
Clarett vs. NFL
Litke: Potential Fallout in Clarett Suit
By JIM LITKE
.c The Associated Press
If the potential fallout from Maurice Clarett's lawsuit against the NFL wasn't so worrisome, it might be good for a laugh.
How's this for audacious? Because Clarett couldn't stop himself from taking free stuff and lying to investigators, thus breaking one set of eligibility rules while playing for Ohio State, he asked a judge Tuesday to bend another set of eligibility rules so he can play in the NFL.
But by the time family adviser and former football great Jim Brown finished describing Clarett's act of selflessness, it ranked alongside Mahatma Gandhi's hunger strikes.
``He wants to point out what's wrong with the system,'' Brown said.
``I think that's a big statement today,'' he added. ``Most people just want to take the money and shut up.''
Brown is a category unto himself. He takes money and still won't shut up. Though Clarett has said precious little about anything in public recently, that didn't stop his family adviser from insisting that creating opportunities for other youngsters played a big part in Clarett's decision.
``He understands he can be a pioneer,'' Brown said. ``He wants to help other players.''
Yet when asked in the same ESPN.com interview how many other athletes might be helped, Brown replied a precious few. ``Only the (elite) players will benefit from it.''
Ask somebody who watches the NBA or college basketball how that little experiment is going. Then duck.
Nearly all the kids jumping directly to the pros from high school or bailing out on college after a season or two enter the league long on attitude and short on fundamentals. It's watered down the final product - both college and pro - to where some nights it's painful to watch. More than three decades later, Spencer Haywood, who successfully challenged the NBA's early entry rules, still wonders whether he created a monster.
``Right now the American athlete is dunking and dribbling himself right out of the league. I don't even want to imagine,'' he said recently, ``what would happen with football.''
Soon, he might not have to imagine.
To play in the NFL, you must be three years out of high school.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said no single case prompted commissioner Paul Tagliabue to arrive at that formulation - no exceptions allowed - only that Tagliabue did sometime around 1990 to take any guesswork out of the process. NFL players association chief Gene Upshaw, unlike his NBA counterpart, Billy Hunter, had no problem going along.
However, because Tagliabue and Upshaw made their agreement on the side instead of writing it into the collective bargaining agreement, Clarett's attorneys found the opening they needed. In the lawsuit, they contend the minimum-age provision is not covered by the antitrust laws that exempt all of the other working conditions agreed to between the league and the union and spelled out in the CBA.
Tagliabue's mostly old-school owners have told him they're willing to eat hefty legal bills to defend the age limit. They argue it's unfair to throw kids in against men in a sport so much more bruising than any of the others.
In truth, though, their objections might be no more principled than Clarett's. Even though Clarett may not turn out to be a particularly good example - he's on the smallish side, with questions about his durability and judgment - there are more than a few others out there who are physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to begin mixing it up with their elders.
Even more rare is the owner who, given the chance, would pass up such a kid in the draft. And who in their right mind would tell a kid to walk away from the kind of money the NFL hands out?
So it could just be that a shrewd commissioner and his owners don't want to lose a minor league system - college football - that delivers players who are not just finished products, but in many cases, already proven box-office attractions.
No matter how you view it, this is a tough call.
``Arbitrary? Sure it is,'' agent Ralph Cindrich said of the NFL's age limit.
He cites fourth-year Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington as a prime example. ``He came into the NFL after three years of college, but I met him at a banquet when he was back in high school. He was already a man's man back then.''
But in the next breath, he notes there are age limits for all kind of things.
``You have to be a certain age to drive, vote, fight and drink, even though some people can handle the responsibility sooner. But let's not forget why we put them out there, because the vast majority of people are not.
``And I believe the same is true,'' said Cindrich, a tough-guy NFL linebacker 30 years ago, ``about football players.''
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at email@example.com
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It's being said that this could take up to 2 years in the courts and by that time Maurice would be eligible for the draft. Local news last night was interviewing various peple (a cousin for one) about if Clarett would be in school today as this is the first day of school at OSU. The answer was of course he would be, he still wants to play at OSU.
Last edited by Unklescott; 09-24-2003 at 08:28 AM.
It ain't easy being green
I would never ever wish an injury on a player. But if and when Clarett joins the NFL, I can wish for him to fail. And fail in spectacular fashion.
I've heard lawyers defending him saying that he is being denied the right to earn a living. B-freakin'-S. He could go to the Canadian Football League. The Arena League. The local McDonalds.
The guy might be a talented football player. But his talent on the gridiron pales in comparision to his skills as a grade-A jerk.
C'mon Without Cmon Within
Clarett will win this lawsuit based on the fact the NFL Draft is illegal (as a practice to assign where a player is employed)- this has always been a bargaining chip for the players whenever they have disagreements with the owners, and the NFL players always get more of what they are bargaining for compared to players of other sports.
Apparently Clarett's lawyers will attack the legality of the draft, and the NFL will concede to keep the current draft practice in place. Of course this will all drag out in about 2 years time, when Clarett would have been a senior in college and eligible for the NFL anyway.
That's all folks!
Update om lawsuit
Judge Hopes to End Clarett Case by Feb. 1
.c The Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Lawyers for Maurice Clarett and the NFL met in New York on Tuesday, with the judge saying she hoped to rule by Feb. 1 on the suspended Ohio State tailback's lawsuit against the league.
Clarett is challenging the NFL's rule that a player must be out of high school three years to be eligible for the draft.
Clarett's attorney, Alan C. Milstein, said Tuesday the two sides set a timeline for legal briefs to be filed during a conference with the judge in open court.
The attorneys for Clarett will file their briefs by Oct. 27, with the NFL answering by Nov. 21. Clarett's lawyers will then reply to the NFL by Dec. 10, Milstein said.
U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin said she would do her best to rule on the case by Feb. 1, Milstein said.
The NFL did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.
Clarett was suspended by Ohio State for the season for accepting money from a family friend and for lying about it to NCAA and university investigators.
Clarett, who rushed for 1,237 yards and led Ohio State to a national championship as a freshman last season, is not eligible for the draft until 2005 under current NFL rules.
The suit claims the NFL's three-year rule violates antitrust law and harms competition by excluding players. The suit asks Scheindlin to throw out the rule and declare Clarett eligible for the 2004 draft - or require the NFL to hold a special supplemental draft sooner.
Milstein said he doubted if the NFL would provide a supplemental draft to Clarett.
``For whatever reason, they're taking this to the end of the road,'' Milstein said.
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