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The NFL's arguement against Clarett is very weak


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If this is all they told the supreme court, they will be allowed in the draft. The fact he is the same age as some of the other kids in the draft kills the NFL's case.


Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The NFL urged the Supreme Court on Thursday to keep Maurice Clarett out of this weekend's draft because the dispute over his eligibility is unsettled.

Saying a team picking Clarett would be left with nothing if he ultimately is barred from the pros this season, the league said the former Ohio State running back could enter a supplemental draft if allowed into the NFL.

Clarett, 20, asked the court this week to require the NFL to let him in the draft despite a lower court injunction against him.

He is fighting the NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school before turning pro. Also awaiting word from the Supreme Court is wide receiver Mike Williams of Southern California, who is expected to be a first-round pick -- if eligible.

In a filing with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the NFL argued against having Clarett in the draft.

"The NFL club drafting [Clarett] would forfeit the value of its draft selection, if, after a decision on the merits, [Clarett] were deemed ineligible; there would be no way for the affected club to 'unscramble the egg' and recoup its pick," Washington lawyer Gregg Levy wrote in a filing released by the court Thursday.

Levy said if Clarett wins the dispute over eligibility rules, a supplemental draft will be held and he could participate in training camps this summer.

Clarett's attorney, Alan Milstein, said he wasn't surprised by anything in the NFL's response.

"There was nothing new, that's for sure," he said.

Clarett is appealing a stay issued Monday by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, putting a hold on a lower-court ruling that said the NFL can't enforce its three-year rule.

The case has been sent to Ginsburg because she oversees appeals from New York. She can decide the appeal by herself, or she can turn to her fellow justices to reach a decision. Most emergency appeals like this one are rejected by the court.

Clarett led Ohio State to a national championship as a freshman, but was ruled ineligible as a sophomore for accepting money from a family friend and lying about it to NCAA and university investigators. Clarett, out of high school two years, would be eligible for the 2005 draft under the current rule.

Ginsburg is not bound by a deadline in deciding on the case. Milstein said in his filing if no decision is rendered before the draft Clarett will "suffer substantial irreparable injury."

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Wednesday it was "far-fetched" that Clarett would return to play for the Buckeyes. He dropped out of classes at Ohio State after the winter quarter.

"From an academic standpoint, unless the NCAA really changes its posture about academics, I think it would be difficult," Tressel said.

Steve Snapp, an assistant athletic director at Ohio State, said there were significant obstacles in the way of Clarett regaining his eligibility even if he wanted to rejoin the Buckeyes.

"There is a number of issues about whether or not he has professionalized himself," Snapp said.

The court could decide in favor of either side, or reach a compromise. The NFL might be permitted to preserve its three-year rule, but Clarett and Williams could move into the NFL in a supplemental draft this summer.

Former stars such as Reggie White, Cris Carter and Bernie Kosar entered the NFL after being taken in supplemental drafts.

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The case is not weak at all.

But Ginsberg is the wildcard...if she decides this on her own and decides in Claretts favor she wil be nothing but a judicial activist.

The smartest course for her would be to involve a larger panel, no matter the ultimate decision. At least then her actions could be viewed without outright skepticism.

The likely compromise on this issue might be a qualifier in the agreement which allows for age consideration along with the three years out of high school limitation. But does anyone think that this was not already discussed in the first NFL-NFLPA discussions? Of course it was...and it was passed on because it allows for further lawsuits involving age discrimination directly. The parties concerned purposely kept it to the current language as it was the most defendable. If age determination itself is viewed as discriminatory then we will have high schoolers coming into the NFL as they are in basketball. Is that what any sane Football fan wants?

The agreement was the best compromise they could come up with which maintains the viability of the NCAA in terms both athletic and scholastic. It has the interests of all parties involved and seeks to find a workable compromise. The argument against it should be waged on the arbitrariness of the three years removed.

But the initial case waged by Clarett is on anti-trust grounds. I see nothing actionable on anti-trust grounds in this mutually achieved agreement. Rather, this is quickly turning into a right-to- work fiasco filled with landmines for the future of Professional Football.

The NFL should be upheld.

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Ginsburg already has everything that the Circuit Court decided - they'll defer to that for now aren't going to rule on the merits of the case in this short timeframe. The only reason the SCOTUS will issue an injunction here is if they believe Clarett will suffer irreparable harm from being kept out of the draft. The NFL is just pointing out that she needs to weigh the team's interest as well as Clarett's. The burden here is really on Clarett to show some compelling reason, so it's what he says that really matters.

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Right, she's essentially ruling on the Injunction. Sorry if that wasn't clear. After re-reading my post I realized it sounded as if the final merits of the case were being argued. Sorry.

But if she interjects herself into this with a ruling in Claretts favor...with most of the burden on his side of the case...she will have accomplished nothing of substance.

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