NFL News of August 25, 2003

Warren Sapp has some advice for Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett.

Get a clue.

Sapp, the star defensive tackle for the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, gave a sobering analysis of Clarett’s behavior and of any remaining thoughts Clarett might have about challenging the NFL’s age-limit rule.

…In the debate over how young is too young to be a professional athlete, Clarett has considered challenging the NFL’s rule that states a player must be three years removed from his high school graduating class before entering the draft.

The NFL’s rule is the most restrictive of the four major professional sports. The NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL essentially allow players to turn pro after their senior year of high school.

But the NFL seems quite happy to follow a piece of advice normally meant for recalcitrant youth.

Stay in school.

Cynics point out the NFL’s rule is self-serving, essentially maintaining the convenient relationship the league has with college football. The colleges serve as a de facto minor-league system, giving the NFL free what baseball and hockey pay for themselves. Meanwhile, the colleges rake in the cash from their game.

While there is some truth to that, players such as Sapp and Dolphins linebacker Junior Seau, who both entered the NFL after their junior seasons in college, said there is a value to college that goes beyond the field. It’s not necessarily academic, but it is important.

—Jason Cole, The Miami Herald “Clarett might think he’s ready for NFL—but most others don’t”

Clarett won his initial challenge against the NFL but it was eventually overturned and he was barred from entering the 2004 NFL draft. He was also suspended for the 2004 season by the NCAA. He was taken at the end of the 3rd round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos, but was cut by the team at the end of the preseason before taking an NFL snap. After a series of legal incidents in 2006, Clarett was jailed through 2010.

Clarett spent the 2010 season with UFL’s Omaha Nighthawks as the second-string running back. In May of 2013, it was announced he was joining the Ohio Affiliate of Tiger Rugby.

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