TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, February 17, 2004
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NFL not for boys
Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett is in for pain

Assistant Sports Editor John Ashley Menzies is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Aledo.

There is one thing I just can’t stand: Teenagers who make more money than I do.

It’s not really a greed thing or anything. It’s about the principle. Or something like that.
What brings this up is a U.S. District Court has ruled that Maurice Clarett, though now no longer a teenager, is eligible for the NFL draft even though he has played only one season at Ohio State and is only two years removed from his high school graduation.

The arguments abound on why Clarett should be allowed into the NFL.
Baseball, basketball and hockey all draft kids directly out of high school.

Baseball and hockey have a minor league system that can help players at least get their feet wet before being thrown to the wolves. A sort of ‘Hey, don’t worry. It’ll be OK,’ before they drop you off a cliff.

Basketball doesn’t have the luxury of a minor league system. And we see what kind of watered-down cesspool of talent it has become because of it. Yes, young “phenoms” LeBron James and Carmello Anthony are having successful rookie seasons and neither have had their 20th birthday yet.

But think, how good would these players be if they weren’t in a league watered down by kids?

This is not the same NBA that Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant jumped into.
People argue that because these three professional sports allow the kiddoes into their leagues, so should the NFL. That’s argument enough right?

Well, no. Here is the thing. In the NBA, when a player makes the jump from high school to the pros, there isn’t anyone out there trying to kill him.

Shaquille O’Neal is not going to try and rip LeBron James’ head off when he drives up the middle.

If Clarett makes the early jump, people like Ray Lewis will try and rip his head off.
Period. End of story. I could just end the column right here.

LaVar Arrington, linebacker for the Washington Redskins, told The Associated Press he felt Clarett’s actions wouldn’t be tolerated by current NFL players.

“Because of the way he’s done all these things, some people here see it as disrespectful,” Arrington said at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. “I’m sure guys are going to break his tail, try to break him in.

“Either he’ll succeed, or he’ll be a total bust. If he can make it that rookie year without being assassinated, I think he’ll be all right.”

Football and basketball are two completely different sports. Football is violent. Basketball is finesse. The competition Clarett played against in college, even in the Big Ten, is minuscule compared to players in the NFL.

The best college team would be destroyed by the worst NFL team. Southern Cal or Louisiana State vs. the Arizona Cardinals? The Cardinals would win by 20 points.
Twenty points might be exaggerated a little, but the point is there. The competition level is astronomically different. The NFL is too fast, too strong and too big. On the Cardinals’ worst day, they could still beat the best college football team.

Basketball is just different. You look at the way the sports are currently, both NCAA and NBA, and you see they are both watered down and are definitely not the leagues they were 10 years ago.

I say there is a good chance the best team in college basketball could beat the worst team in the NBA. To say it couldn’t happen is naive. It’s just the way the game works now. The team with the best player on the court will generally win in basketball. Could the University of Connecticut beat the Hawks? What about Saint Joseph’s? Or Duke? Or now No. 1 Stanford?

They are two different worlds. Everyone will be watching to see how Clarett does. To see if in fact a kid can make the jump and play with the men in the NFL. I don’t think there is a chance Clarett will make it in the NFL because of his attitude, lack of blazing speed and durability, and the fact that every Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Roy Williams in the NFL will be looking to show him he is just a kid.
TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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