Say it ain’t so, MoClo.
Let me get this out on the table straight away: I’m a Michigan Wolverines fan. Have been from the first game I can remember: the 1977 Rose Bowl, during which an seven-year-old version of myself clearly became enamored with Michigan’s maize-and-blue color scheme, and those funny ear-things on their helmets. Anyway, the Wolverines lost that game (14-6, to USC), and have been regularly breaking my heart ever since. But even I, who dislike Ohio State the way Daisy Duke dislikes long pants, wouldn’t wish this on Maurice Clarett.
The former Buckeye star, who led his team to an improbable and stirring 2002 national championship as a freshman, did an interview with an ESPN reporter via cell phone late last Tuesday. He spoke about how happy he was to have recently become a father, how he didn’t care about money as much, how he’d gained a ton of maturity thanks to the experience. About two hours later, in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Clarett began driving his SUV erratically, police officers noticed and pursued, and Clarett refused to pull over. Police had to spike his tires to get him to stop, whereupon Clarett tried to escape on foot. Officers used a stun gun on him, but Clarett was wearing a bulletproof vest and didn’t stop moving. Eventually, the policemen used Mace on him to get him to stop, and found four loaded guns, including an AK-47 assault rifle, in the car, as well as a half-finished bottle of vodka. He’ll be held in prison at least through the weekend, and is in serious danger of a jail term thereafter.
Now, the kid clearly has mental and/or emotional problems, which isn’t funny. What is funny, however, is the fact that Clarett is the guy who challenged the NFL Draft, and could’ve potentially changed the face of football, a la Curt Flood. Had Clarett’s lawsuit been successful, freshmen or high school players would’ve been eligible for the NFL Draft, college football would’ve more closely resembled college basketball (where players routinely play a single season before jumping to the pros), and drafting an NFL “prospect” would’ve become a more speculative process than ever (as in the NBA, where young players sit on the bench for three years). And this all would’ve been for a guy who was so ready to detonate, Robert Downey Jr. worries about Clarett’s stability.
With football right around the corner, I want to start asking about the NFL. Can you give me one true sleeper from each conference (say, someone who didn’t make the playoffs last year) who you think has a legit chance to make the Super Bowl?
Bodog.com Bookmakers, Bodog.com: You’ve got to love what’s happening in Arizona with the pick-up of the Edge to add to an already up-and-coming offense. If Leinart can sign a deal and provide Warner with some backup, we could see Arizona fighting for a wild card in the NFC. I say wild card because it’s unlikely anyone is beating out Seattle for the NFC West title. A couple other legit teams are Dallas and San Diego. Both these teams barely missed the playoffs at 9-7 and have made some key additions in the off-season. No one can stop talking about Philip Rivers and the training camp he has had, while Parcells may be the only coach that can keep T.O. in check to do what he does best. Besides, when you’re paying Roy Williams that much, you better make a playoff run.
Who do you think has the biggest impact in his rookie year: Vince Young, Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler? Why?
BB, Bodog.com: Young so far looks like he will make the most impact this year. Leinart was a possible contender, but now even Dennis Green is talking trash about the USC star and his failure to sign a deal. I can’t see Cutler getting much playtime in Denver either with Jake the Snake at the helm.
Which AFC stalwart team is most likely to disappoint in ’06: New England, Pittsburgh or Denver? Why?
BB, Bodog.com: Indy will continue to be the AFC’s most disappointing team unless they make the Super Bowl this year. This team dominated the AFC last year and was hitting the links after opening their Christmas presents. At least Peyton has his acting career to fall back on!
Which NFC perennial doormat makes the best run at .500 or above, Arizona, Detroit, San Francisco or New Orleans? Why?
BB, Bodog.com: Zona, Zona, Zona! These guys have the best shot to crack .500. Did you say San Fran? The candle won’t be lit at Candlestick for at least a couple more years. Anyone with Alex Smith in their keeper league likes to plan a decade ahead.