Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guess Who Wants in the NFL?

On the heels of Michael Vick deciding he wants to come back to the NFL, another current convict has declared his intentions as well. This time it’s former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett who wants in the league. (Considering he never played a down in the NFL, I guess we can’t call it a comeback.) Clarett expressed his thoughts recently on his blog “The Mind of Maurice.” (The fact that he has a blog is pretty intriguing in itself.) This brings up a few questions. How many people knew he had a blog? How do you blog in prison? Can this please be a reality TV show? He's shown before that all he needs is a little Goose to get loose, so why not let him get loose and blog in prison. In one of his recent entries, Clarett said:

“I can’t hold these feelings in anymore. I want to play football again. I have a deep desire to play. I love the game. I have so much penitentiary aggression pinned up inside of me. I want to hit someone. I want to run the ball. I want to tackle someone. I want to play. I am going to play somewhere. I cannot accept how things ended. I won’t accept how they ended.”

First off, if you’re trying to encourage NFL teams to take a chance on you, the phrase “penitentiary aggression” probably isn’t the buzzword prospective NFL General Managers are looking for. “Having penitentiary aggression” makes it sound more like you want to shank someone than run over a linebacker on the football field. Free advice Mo: You want people to think of you as a reformed individual, not a character from “Oz.”

But back to the issue at hand: Can Maurice Clarett play in the National Football League? (saying it like Jaws for emphasis) He’ll most likely be released in over a year, so he could be ready by the 2010 season. The question is, would anyone want him now as an ex-convict, when no one really wanted him in the first place? Right now, he’s 25 years old and hasn’t played a full season since his freshman year at Ohio State in 2002. While he was a standout player on that Buckeye Championship team, he really hasn’t done anything else to prove he should be in the NFL. Compound that with the fact you could be looking at almost a decade worth of rust. At best, Clarett would be a major project for a team. But hey, even Greg Paulus got a tryout with the Green Bay Packers, which proves NFL teams are willing to take chances to scour talent from the most unlikely places in order to gain a competitive edge.

One of the big issues with Clarett is the last impression he left on the NFL. After his freshman year at Ohio State, he had a two year layoff while trying to enter the NFL draft. Despite sitting out for two years, the Denver Broncos shocked the NFL by drafting the enigmatic star in the third round of the 2005 draft. Clarett proceeded to reward the team by showing up at training camp looking like Fat Albert at a robust 248 pounds. Needless to say, he was let go by the team after an unimpressive preseason.

Despite all of this, Clarett says he can compete in the league. In his blog, he claims to be “rock solid” at 220 pounds and wants to play because he “knows how to play really well.” I’m as skeptical as the next person, but if he honestly reformed himself, then he’s definitely worth a look in someone’s training camp. There’s no arguing he was a beast during his freshman year at Ohio State, and if he can regain the athleticism he displayed there, then who knows? However, that’s a king sized IF, and considering his history, it’s doubtful he’ll be able to put it all together. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out in 2010. Will any NFL team take a shot at him or will he be headlining a resurgence of the AFL in 2010?

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