Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Clarett continues legacy of quitting

Maurice Clarett said he was ready.

He stood up on a podium at the beginning of the NFL’s Combine week action and he told us he was ready. He told players, he told coaches, he told reporters and he probably told the boy handing out towels to the athletes. He was ready, and everyone needed to know that.

But he knew he had to prove it.


As Clarett fielded questions from the media, the turbulent tailback stated that he would do any drill the scouts and coaches wanted. He showed a sense of character, a first for Clarett, by not bashing his former teammates or the administration at Ohio State University — an art he has nearly perfected over the past several years. He claimed he’d grown up.

And at the beginning it appeared Clarett was good to his word. He showed up to this year’s combine in impeccable shape weighing in at 234 pounds, lower than last season. His body fat percentage dropped from 17 percent, last year, to 11.4 percent this season. He even posted 22 repetitions in the bench press portion of the combine, more than solid for a running back.

Even his interviews were going well. At last year’s combine, Clarett became notorious with scouts and coaches for his inept, nay, hostile attitude. In routine question and answer sessions, Clarett would have emotional outbursts when certain questions were asked. But this year was different, this year he was humble and courteous with all the answers he gave.

He had scouts and pundits across the nation believing that maybe he had really recommitted himself. That maybe, just maybe, Maurice Clarett, despite not taking a meaningful hit in over two years, would find his way into the middle rounds of the draft.

That was, until the now notorious 40-yard dash.

The 40-yard dash, the zenith of all combine exercises, especially for a running back. The event has jumped players from fringe first-day prospects to top-five picks, and dropped top-five picks into obscurity. For Clarett the latter may just apply.

Clarett ran a disastrous 4.82 second 40-yard time to start the event. The time was horrible for a running back. Hell, five 300-pound offensive linemen managed to run sub-five second 40s. Clarett would improve in his second scamper, shaving a full 10th of a second off his first time, but his uninspiring effort was still well below NFL standards.

Then the fun began. Turn on the lights, ready the camera and cue the music — because here it is, just what scouts, coaches, pundits and fans had been waiting for — the Clarett meltdown had just occurred.

With back-to-back disappointing dashes, Clarett quit. That’s right he quit. He packed up his stuff, threw the sweats on, granted ESPN one final emotional interview and made a B-line for the parking lot. He was done.

The cynic in me has not stopped laughing since. Was this not the man who was ready for the NFL? Was he not a changed person? Had he not accepted responsibility for his previous actions and rededicated himself to the game?

Of course he was. Why, I have his exact words right here.

“I’ve got a lot greater work ethic than I had last year,” Clarett said at the NFL Combine press conference. “I think my drive is a whole lot more determined than I was last year. I just want to work, I don’t care if it’s special teams, anything, just get me on the field, I want to play with anybody.”

Excuse me a moment, I’m still laughing — okay, I’m good now, back to the story.

“A whole lot more determined …” that’s what he said. Maybe it’s just me, but I could have sworn that quitting wasn’t a way of showing your determination. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s just the opposite.

Now I concede that the combine workouts held more importance for Clarett than for other players. After all, all scouts have to go on for Clarett are his measurements in workouts and outdated game film from his freshman year with the Buckeyes. Honestly, his 40 time hurt him tremendously.

But that’s still no reason to quit. While physical ability has been a concern with Clarett since he left football, of greater concern to most NFL personnel has been his mental toughness and stability.

Clarett has now quit three times since his freshman season at OSU. He quit on his team when he left the program after one season to attempt to enter the draft. He quit again when he accused the Ohio State program of illegal recruiting techniques to deflect attention from his own legal troubles. And now he quit a third time, this time in the NFL combine.

Yet Clarett still wants to be drafted. The man who wasn’t there for his team, was irresponsible towards his alma mater and who quit on himself wants a team to put their trust in him. But why should any team do that?

The man has quit on numerous occasions in the past two years. Is any team willing to put the fate of their team in his hand? If the man quits on himself, how can a coach trust him in an overtime battle or a fourth-and-one situation? No coach can truthfully tell you they can.

Clarett is far from being the first individual to struggle at the NFL combine. Case in point, two seasons ago, yes the same year Clarett tried to circumvent the NFL’s draft policy, current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin ran a 4.71 second 40-yard dash at the combine.

The time dropped Boldin into the second round of the draft, 54th overall, but the young receiver didn’t quit. Instead, Boldin worked his way up the Arizona depth chart — though not hard to do — and managed to win the Associated Press’ Offensive Rookie of the Year award, The Sporting News’ Rookie of the Year honors and became the only rookie sent to Honolulu, Hawaii, to play in the Pro Bowl. Oh yeah, he also set the rookie record for catches in a season with 101.

Not bad for a guy with a 4.7-second 40-yard dash.

Clarett has one chance left to show scouts he can play, when he will supposedly perform an individual workout at the Ohio State Pro Day March 8 (better take a rain check on that place and date). That is, of course, if he doesn’t quit that too.

But don’t worry, he won’t quit this time, he’ll be ready. After all, you can trust him; he’s giving you his word.

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